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Visceral connections

Grandma had no taste for wine,
no palate and never told her story straight
Straight meant mean to her and for her
a little reticence, please, meant privacy
Mary was easy to talk to but at heart quite
cold—Grandma said “she’s cold that
one” and never saw what I saw in her

“You wear your hair long and wild
like some kind of mangy animal—
You disgust me” and she frowns
“What about your hair?” I said
“I think it’s smart,” she said
referring to her black, shiny, bouffant
which was, I thought, ridiculous

“Live and let live, my lady”
I said, which was, in those days,
as mild in provocation as I got
We know that we’re dying and still
we hope—in the mirror my face
is old—and whether she did or
did not agree, Mary always

seemed to agree with me,
like a whiff of perfume in the
air when she passes
and I, so generous (too much salt,
too much sugar) the pleasures
transitory, like an innate seductive
quality that ought to last forever

Many separate grains
distilled and contained within
a beach, much beyond reach
Sounds, silence, relations, rhythms
“Grandma, if it comes from the
heart there’ll be no stage fright” but
Grandma always suffered from stage fright

Mom never saw me graduate college
or law school, never saw me become
a skilled lawyer, a father or husband,
divorced man or kind man,
never read these poems, never
met my children and wasn’t
with me to love and help guide them

The cruelties and hardness
of life, like something lost in the past,
like a future that never arrives,
its pathos and unequal chances, its
conceit, self-forgetfulness, and patience
all there for us to see in this strident, fraught
dance of sadness, tenacity and cunning

Lost in thought as usual
I always had a good reason
for the changes I made, however
slight—and I won’t say more than I
want to say— like a labor of love and
hate, and I remember them all and how
they sometimes show themselves to me

Visceral connections are the
only innate, real connections
She and I, we laughed about
the same things, and she
and I were as innocent as
lovely small flowers that arise
from fragrant-less, wiry green weeds

 

 

-September 2, 2017-