Divorce, Poetry

Low Notes

Once, I believed you sang for me
Even though the girl’s brown eyes were not the blue of these.
It was a relief to become an imagined thing,
A lyric, the leaf atop a walnut shell, bobbing along
On the calm and lilting sea,
The lullaby of you giving the faintest luff
To the edges of our rough but sturdy dreams.
When we turned away from that gust
We found so much calm, we could not progress.
Lazy circles. Days into weeks.
You stopped trying to draw a smile upon my cheeks.
Do you remember I had a dimple?
Do I recall the feel of your teeth?
Your tune, so long
Had pulled me back from any distance
Until I slipped to the crack at the bottom
And tried to plug the leak with my own whispers,
Hoarse and off-key.
My sodden wings
Sucked me through and down
I went
Logged with brine, I was not expecting rescue.
Good thing.
Instead, the tentacle grasp, the inky black
Deafness. Down from up, who can tell? That slick and sucking embrace
Cracked scapulae and pressed the feathered limbs back in
And oh, the sting, my torn and voiceless throat,
The sweet surrender of broken things.
How far did I go? Fathoms
Immeasurable, impossible for a human girl
To descend to those low octaves and still draw breath
So I choose to believe
Only this:
I never left the boat
And you were still there on the surface of things
With your song suspended
Over me, awaiting my reach, my choked “Please.”
If I had spoken this aloud, perhaps.
Assuming our power is greater than that of the ocean,
And that words can turn the winds
And that we are more than just dampened flesh
Salted with such thirst.


Closing Remarks

Thank you for saving me from those awful American teenagers in St. Lucia.

Thank you throwing yourself between the two cars on that icy road in California just to keep the new Subaru from getting smashed. For calling in favors to build us a deck in California. For constructing the shed in the front yard with your dad, the play structure in the back yard with my dad, and the coffee table with me.

Thank you for letting me sleep in. For giving Bug and me a home in the woods. For biting your tongue. For mastering Carcassonne.

Thank you for being such a playful daddy, and staying close with your family, and storing the skis and sleds and tents and skates and wagons and hoses and buckets and boxes, all out of the way but within reach.

Thank you for building the clothesline and the sandboxes. For setting up the stump-jungle-gym in the yard, for hanging the hammock, for doing all the driving, and for digging the car out in winter.

Thank you for playing guitar without singing sometimes so I could write. For taking Bug on the back of your bike, taking him camping at Rock Island, taking him for walks around the lake.

Thank you for throwing the ball hundreds of times just exactly straight so he could feel the crack of the bat. Thank you for doing the same for me, for correcting my pitch, for never losing your patience no matter how wildly I swung the racket or club or bat.

Thank you for agreeing to have our computer and TV in the basement or back room, and sometimes for having no TV at all.

Thank you for dealing with the mice and spiders.

Thank you for appreciating every meal I cobbled together even if you didn’t like it.

Thank you for hanging the art and the curtains and the shelves.

Thank you for airing the tires. For raking the leaves. For speaking calmly. For reading Bug stories. For wrestling with him on the living room floor.

Thank you for your calm that night when our son was just a year old and I couldn’t take another minute with him, and I met you at the door with my overnight bag and tears streaming down my face and I thrust Bug into your arms and announced I was going to be gone for the night. Thank you for taking it all in stride and trusting that I would return and letting me go catch my breath in a Denver hotel room by my blessed self.

Thank you for drawing the maps and the blueprints. For bringing home the dining hall schedules. For keeping me abreast of the activities in camp even when I was too consumed with home and Bug to care.

Thank you for inviting me to common meals. For nudging me to host the game nights in our house. For coming home at lunch from time to time to be at the table with your family.

Thank you for learning to drive stick and use the tractor and run the plow. For splitting the logs and building the fires. For mastering the chainsaw, the table saw, the nail gun. For building the fence so the dog and our son could have a place outside to run.

When I called you to schedule the next meeting for the divorce, thank you for reminding me to ask the lawyer about tax benefits and timing. For cracking a joke. For your light touch.

Thank you for staying kind to your son and me when you were compelled to blow or burn or use your teeth. Thank you for sticking around. Thank you for being the best man you knew how to be.