After an Absence
by Linda Pastan
After an absence that was no one's fault
we are shy with each other,
and our words seem younger than we are,
as if we must return to the time we met
and work ourselves back to the present,
the way you never read a story
from the place you stopped
but always start each book all over again.
Perhaps we should have stayed
tied like mountain climbers
by the safe cord of the phone,
its dial our own small prayer wheel,
our voices less ghostly across the miles,
less awkward than they are now.
I had forgotten the grey in your curls,
that splash of winter over your face,
remembering the younger man
you used to be.
And I feel myself turn old and ordinary,
having to think again of food for supper,
the animals to be tended, the whole riptide
of daily life hidden but perilous
pulling both of us under so fast.
I have dreamed of our bed
as if it were a shore where we would be washed up,
not this striped mattress
we must cover with sheets. I had forgotten
all the old business between us,
like mail unanswered so long that silence
becomes eloquent, a message of its own.
I had even forgotten how married love
is a territory more mysterious
the more it is explored, like one of those terrains
you read about, a garden in the desert
where you stoop to drink, never knowing
if your mouth will fill with water or sand.
I’ve been reading about a Massachusetts school for the disabled that allegedly delivers electric shocks to students if they cuss and nag and dress like slobs. The Rotenberg Center says that about half of its population of around 150 incarcerated youth require this “aversive therapy” and defends this practice by noting that autistic and disabled students sometimes bite themselves and slam their heads against walls so violently that they could blind themselves—um, perhaps because the people who are supposed to be caring for them are, instead, operating a goddamn Skinner box and using public funds to shock them?
I’m looking forward to Danishgrrl’s return so I can ask her all about the other treatments in use for autistic and disabled kids.
Meanwhile, I had to have my lemon of a car towed to the mechanic yesterday because its latest in a long series of problems is a major gas leak that involves the fuel pump and cracking plastic gas line fittings and possibly the gas tank needing to be replaced and, well, one good tossed cigarette or splash of gasoline on my exhaust system could have turned writergrrrl to toast.
Unfortunately, my mechanic can’t get parts till Friday because of the holidays and will have to remove the back seat and floor panel to do this work, so it probably won’t be ready till the tenth.
So all I am seeing right now is a string of dollar signs and frankly, I wish someone would have tossed a cigarette and just blown the lemon up (without anyone getting injured, of course) so that I could at least get some insurance money out of this fiasco.
Anyway, this has been a hellacious week and I miss Danishgrrrl and my new boss is breathing down my neck and the last day of the fiscal year is upon us and I am about to pick up beautiful Danishgrrrl at the airport, so life will surely get better tonight.
READING: a recipe for grilled salmon with a tequila-cilantro marinade
BEST-OF SPAM: Does your wife think that banana is harder than your penis?
(Um, she hates bananas and so do I.)