This is a major revision of one of my old poems. To give you a little background on it – basically the speaker is a man who is explaining both to himself and to stranger at a bar the unraveling of his marriage. It is told in a soliloquy form. The title will be changing probably, but for now it is
She looked the same as she always had …
“I looked at her,
she looked the same
as she always had”
What had changed?
Years of married suburban life,
at some point . . . someone,
for some reason . . .
I can’t understand,
stopped . . . touching.
How did it begin,
the beginning of the end?
I feel as though we’d been in the
dénouement for years.
Was it me . . . was it her?
it’s one of those things
Like a dime store romance,
“He grabbed her body, embraced her.
She raised her head,
brushed her fingertips across his lips.”
I can’t remember . . .
if she ever looked at me,
in that elemental way.
“With eyes half closed,
bodies steaming passion”
Really, it’s the words I missed most of all.
Those stupid endearments that disappear.
We had become one of “those” couples,
who in our hurry to the office,
only glanced at the park full of children,
dogs, happy families, lovesick picnicking.
If we thought of the honeymoon, it was only
I, I worked too much,
paper piles grew
despite my diligent.
She flew often
to other countries,
gone for weeks,
hammer in hand
to break that glass ceiling,
on her way up up up . . .
I stayed glued to the ground, shrugging,
struggling to shuffling my feet.
Haunting happy hours, and after hours
where I knew I would not find happiness.
But I played the game, at some point
we all play the game. You would too,
If you were living the life of a lie,
All’s well, all’s well, alls’ well here in hell
Till one morning,
a rare hour when we awoke
still lying next to one another.
Separate cocoons in a bed unused to two.
She arose, completed her solitary routine,
carting her body in unassuming silence,
as if she was the only one.
My presence, simply a necessary invasion,
like a maid in a four star hotel.
At the breakfast table,
I sat clutching my coffee,
contemplating a bagel.
She grabbed dry toast,
prepackaged orange juice,
keys, rushing for the door,
as if she had some reason to run,
some awful thing to escape.
Maybe she just something better waiting?
I called out to her…
“So, Hon, how’s your week been?”
Two clipped word were all she answered,
Without pausing for a response
she revved up the car,
peeling out of the driveway.
Well, I suppose, what can you expect?
To have called either of us a better half was ruse.
How can you be a better half without the other half?
Later on, at my lunch hour,
when a man approached me,
detachment silk screened across
his generic features,
I wish could say I was surprised.
I wish I claim I hadn’t been looking for him,
everyday as I ate my lunch,
chasing Alka Seltzer with whiskey,
for my diet of heartburn and hopelessness.
He handed me a cheap Bic pen,
oily with someone else sorrow and bitterness.
I had to hold on tight to keep it from slipping.
It’s funny, it only took moments to sign away
a façade we spent a decade building.
Back in my cubical, I sat solemnly,
Lacking tears may have been what
Saved me from emotional dehydration,
for despair had long since passed into numbness.
When I finally looked up from my desk
I saw her picture perched in the shrine
I had appointed to her and I wondered why?
Why she looked the same as she all ways had?
What had changed?
Bags drooped under my eyes,
my shoulders slumped, my feet stumbled
more than they ever had in the past.
Sitting beside the first picture was
another photo of her taken last summer.
She looked the same as she always had,
but something inside her had changed.
At first, I thought maybe it was
A little less luster to her hair,
Or a used spent look to her eyes.
No, she still looked the same as she always had.
There was neither a line, nor a fold on her body that wasn’t there before,
yet the person who spoke to me these last few years . . . was a stranger.
I still wonder . . . when it changed?
How she could look the same?
I am still searching for that moment,
when consummation turned to evasion,
when the we split into her and I,
when she stopped looking at me
and began looking through me.