i don’t remember my own grief very well. i’m not sure i’ve done much of it at all. nothing that has a narrative, for sure, like these memoirs seem to. and i can’t really access it: what was i doing while she was sick? what was i thinking about? who was around me? how did i feel when … and yet cheryl and natalie nail it. it makes me think of how incredibly important it is to tell the stories we can tell.
as one of the “women poets of willett street,” i featured at poets in the park last night. this 4- or 5-part series (saturdays in july) is one of my favorite local poetry events. and now, since i live on washington park, it’s a few steps from my door. though i read other work, i focused my reading on poems set in downtown albany, including a couple new ones, like the one below. i wrote it after the boys and i decided to be tourists in our own city, and so we booked a tour with the albany aquaducks on the company’s final weekend of doing business locally.
lean into as many first kisses as it takes: / the stoop where lips meet at 2 a.m. belongs to you, / as does the empty sidewalk and the soft orange / halo around the street lamp. the quiet is yours, / as well, along with the strange shadow / of a tree on your neighbor’s front door
along side the struggles, there have been many beautiful moments, as well, of course. i have greeted them quietly. i have accepted them and made note of them. i have taken some of them to bed. i have written some poems about them. i have photographed them from many angles. but i haven’t celebrated. only recently, even, have i started to feel more comfortable with the idea of celebrating.
jill and i both refer to the place we grew up as “up north.” her “up north” is ticonderoga, new york; mine is lincoln, maine. the similarities are many: paper mills, mountains, lakes. i was teasing her that her “up north” wasn’t *really* “up north,” considering mine is up-norther-er than hers.
after i left, one of the uncharacteristic things my husband did was begin quoting the dalai lama. over two decades, my husband had never shown me a spiritual, peaceful, one-with-the-universe, kindness-toward-all bone in his body. that he suddenly connected with the dalai lama became a big joke to me (especially during periods of, shall we say, spitefulness toward me). i doubted his sincerity.
music from across the alley. howard jones from the 80s: no one ever is to blame. at first i think, blech. and wonder why someone would advertise that kind of musical bad taste so loudly. but then, of course, i find myself singing along. you want her. and she wants you.