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YOU WOULDN'T KNOW


If I didn’t write this poem,

you wouldn’t know

the hum of my dishwasher,

the way one dish clinks against another,

the strum of my son’s guitar.

“Thank You” by Dido playing

in my daughter’s room.

My younger son:

twelve,

lanky,

sweaty-sweetly,

leans down to me in bed,

says, Goodnight, Mamma.


You wouldn’t know that

I wear a mouth guard,

take depression pills at night,

Will pee once in the middle of the night.

Have Toni Morrison’s Mercy

Stacked on top of four other books.

I can’t decide what I can endure.


You wouldn’t

know that an hour ago

I took a bath

while talking

to my girlfriend about a man

who appeared with

a machete

across the chain length

fence in her neighbor’s backyard.

He was "making trails."

You wouldn’t know

that he wore a Gilligan Island hat

and a skull and cross bone

across his bare stomach.


You wouldn’t know

that I think

about my granny

sitting on a woven carpet

listening to Roosevelt’s

fireside chats

on the radio.

I think of how her

Mamma played the fiddle.

I think of how,

toward the end,

I brought her a mug of sugary

vanilla coffee on her porch

and she'd look out over

her land.


You wouldn’t know

that the strong women

in my family take

to their beds when

heartache comes calling

like a machete

on the overgrowth.


The stolen days.


You wouldn’t

know that my brother,

stage 4 cancer and paralyzed,

scolded me today for being sad

about what happened to him.

About other things.

He said, “Get yourself together.

I’m gonna walk again.

I’m gonna get cancer pills.”

How can I argue?

And yet,

sadness

loves my ass.

And yet, he's not wrong.


If I didn’t write this poem

You wouldn’t know

that my kids make fun

of how much I like the movie,

My Octopus Teacher.

How I’m afraid

of their leaving one day.

What I’ll be, then.


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