To my daughters I need to say:
Go with the one who loves you biblically.
The one whose love lifts its head to you
despite its broken neck. Whose body bursts
sixteen arms electric to carry you, gentle
the way old grief is gentle.
Love the love that is messy in all its too much,
The body that rides best your body, whose mouth
saddles the naked salt of your far gone hips,
whose tongue translates the rock language of
all your elegant scars.
Go with the one who cries out for her tragic sisters
as she chops the winter’s wood, the one whose skin
triggers your heart into a heaven of blood waltzes.
Go with the one who resembles most your father.
Not the father you can point out on a map,
but the father who is here, is your home,
is the key to your front door.
Know that your first love will only be the first.
And the second and third and even fourth
will unprepare you for the most important:
The Blessed. The Beast. The Last Love,
which is, of course, the most terrifying kind.
Because which of us wants to go with what can murder us?
Can reveal to us our true heart’s end and its thirty years
spent in poverty? Can mimic the sound of our bird-throated mothers,
replicate the warmth of our brothers’ tempers?
Can pull us out of ourselves until we are no longer sisters
or daughters or sword swallowers but, instead,
women who give and lead and take and want
and want and want and want,
because there is no shame in wanting.
And you will hear yourself say:
Last Love, I wish to die so I may come back to you
new and never tasted by any other mouth but yours.
And I want to be the hands that pull your children
out of you and tuck them deep inside myself until they are
ready to be the children of such a royal and staggering love.
Or you will say:
Last Love, I am old, and have spent myself on the courageless,
have wasted too many clocks on less-deserving men,
so I hurl myself at the throne of you and lie humbly at your feet.
Last Love, let me never roll out of this heavy dream of you,
let the day I was born mean my life will end
where you end. Let the man behind the church
do what he did if it brings me to you. Let the girls
in the locker room corner me again if it brings me to you.
Let this wild depression throw me beneath its hooves
if it brings me to you. Let me pronounce my hoarded joy
if it brings me to you. Let my father break me again
and again if it brings me to you.
Last love, I have let other men borrow your children. Forgive me.
Last love, I once vowed my heart to another. Forgive me.
Last Love, I have let my blind and anxious hands wander into a room
and come out empty. Forgive me.
Last Love, I have cursed the women you loved before me. Forgive me.
Last Love, I envy your mother’s body where you resided first. Forgive me.
Last Love, I am all that is left. Forgive me.
Last Love, I did not see you coming. Forgive me.
Last Love, every day without you was a life I crawled out of. Amen.
Last Love, you are my Last Love. Amen.
Last Love, I am all that is left. Amen.
I am all that is left.
I promised I would post this poem for a friend after we talked about finding “the one.”
Girl, lemme know what you think.
Make time for me;
don’t just find it. Carve
out other endeavors to build a space
reserved only for looking deep
into my eyes and giggling
while I hold you—sweaty
I’ve shared my body with you.
Kiss me. Let me think you need me
but never make me question
that you want me. Surprise me:
I know you owe me nothing—
every silly greeting card left on my pillow,
every bouquet of soft orange peonies,
every silver-wrapped bar of milk chocolate
given is a choice.
Over and over, again and again
build a mountain of evidence
that no shadow of doubt can conquer
to question that it is me.
Your choice will always be me.
-by Sondra Rose Marie
This man you’ve only met tonight,
who is wearing fake glasses and a black tank top
in a dive bar in Manhattan, has made you laugh
eleven times already. He is teaching you
how to download apps on your new iPhone.
He is opening one and using his fingertip
to scribble his name across the screen
so you will remember it,
and you are allowing your body
to become a song that says,
When it first appears,
you don’t know how to name love, so it is
nine fingers deep into the phone
even though I called yesterday,
it is losing your other numbers
until five months pass, and it is just you
and this man laying in your bed on 25th Street.
Your hand slung across his chest, nearly asleep.
There is a James Bond movie finishing on the TV,
and just before your eyes are meant to close,
his body is an electric current in tight underwear
out of bed and dancing, pirouetting
nearly into the television, an interpretive
spy dance that is not stopping, but blossoming
to the music of the credits, and your body is now
in tears from a profound laughter. It is no longer
just a joke, no longer just a beautiful dance.
It is the truth from a body that only occurs
in a bedroom between lovers that says,
When you are happy, I am alive. Without you,
I am not me. It does not matter that it will take weeks
to name the love that sits inside you
stable as a new house.
He is the arms of each man to hold you
and assure you were beautiful.
He is not just dancing
perfectly around your dresser and curtains
in his underwear, he is doing it
You do not need to know love is a word
which will travel free between you like a flock
of sparrows. That you will deliver yourself to it,
across an Uptown C train, a fire pit in Boston,
the wedding aisle in a library on the west side
of Manhattan. That there are years between this day
and the day you say no other word
can communicate what we both know.
When you say:
Husband—because my life
is my own and I wish to give it to you.
Because I wish to apologize and to forgive,
and to come home to you each night.
Husband, because it was true in a dive bar,
and in a bedroom that we shared, on a street
where I walk around the block
because we’ve just had a fight
and I am coming home to you calm.
I name you my husband to receive you.
True today and tomorrow. My husband
because I have spent my entire life
climbing toward your name.
“Epithalamion,” Jon Sands (via commovente)
This poem. This poem. This poem. This poem. This poem.
The ambulance men touched her cold
body, lifted it, heavy as iron,
onto the stretcher, tried to close
the mouth, closed the eyes, tied the
arms to the side, moved a caught
strand of hair, as if it mattered,
saw the shape of her breasts, flattened by
gravity, under the sheet,
carried her, as if it were she,
down the steps.
These men were never the same. They went out
afterwards, as they always did,
for a drink or two, but they could not meet
each other’s eyes.
Their lives took
a turn-one had nightmares, strange
pains, impotence, depression. One did not
like his work, his wife looked
different, his kids. Even death
seemed different to him-a place where she
would be waiting,
and one found himself standing at night
in the doorway to a room of sleep, listening to a
woman breathing, just an ordinary
”Death of Marilyn Monroe,” by Sharon Olds from The Dead and the Living(Alfred A. Knopf).
This is one of the first poems that I ever heard that made think I could really learn to like poetry. I first heard it when I was 17 or 18, in my first year of college. I was a fiction writer then and I had this professor, Wendy M—, who has this amazing voice she puts on when she reads; it’s soothing and it reminds you of the way it felt to be little and sick and bundled in bed while your mom ran her hands over your forehead and promised that everything would be okay. Every single time Wendy reads, the whole room is swept away. But, back to the point: Wendy read this poem to our class and it has forever stayed in my head.
For me, the biggest draw of the poem is the last stanza. That man listening to a woman breathe after moving the body of Marilyn, he stays in my head for days after I read the poem. He’s lucky, blessed even: there’s a woman—ordinary, yes—but a woman he’s blessed to hear breathe for (at least) one more night. While the other men feel a sense of loss, this one man, he realizes what he can be grateful for. For me, he’s the heart of this poem.