What Was Here Before
What of the false history, the mucky-shack torn
Away for the crimped sheetrock, uptown fountain?
I know better than to mourn the gone-by and instead
To find love in the layers of build-over. How I love
The way the trees grew into the hill, how the elm
Rotted and became the peat for saplings.
Gated communities, slapped up, flim-flam mansions,
pushed upon communities where the potlatch
once simmered—cheapened now with
real estate deals, names of the wrong things—
Manor Estates and Squaw Ridge: I despise you.
When I was nineteen, that summer,
I drove a little Honda through a tunnel
Into downtown Chicago. Onto the roof,
I’d strapped my grandmother’s old recliner chair:
Olive green, metal poking through the footrest.
I suppose nothing came from the trouble.
There were a lot of things I carried then.
I carried all of them, for everyone.
Two Ways of Grief
Once, I would not wear the shirt
Because it was my husband’s
I would not wear the socks
I would not wear the hat or garden gloves
I would not push the wheelbarrow
I would not take the trash to the curb
I would not lift that book
Or see what was beneath the stack
In the living room I would not
Because these things belonged to my husband
Later, my friend says, “There are two ways
to live–either in love or fear.
If you are living in fear, you are not loving.”
“I’m not afraid of anything,” I said.
“I know,” She said. “How is it to be in love all the time?”
“Oh, the pain of it,” I said. I looked over the cliff.
Someday I will fall and that’s okay.
My voice is not the center
Of all that I am saying. Outside, rain blackens
Pavement and the azaleas
sparkle, purple and salmon.
Far away, two men sit against a wall
And share a pipe. A boy on an island
Tethers a boat to a piling.
How could I ever be afraid?