Wednesday Words: 1.6.16

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To Her Absent Husband

I try to love you with light hands,
fingers cupped enough to hold you,
yet open, so you won’t mistake them for a cage,
but no matter how I curl them, too often
they are empty and you are gone again.
You seem to me then like a suit on a hanger,
or a car idling at a curb, no driver in the front seat.
I walk into love’s closet and bury my face in the suit’s jacket, inhaling
your scent, but the empty sleeves hang slack above my hips.
In the car, I rest my cheek against the cold window,
the chorus of a song you once gave me playing
in my head, wondering if you still listen to that music.

When I am away from you, my wonderings bloom
like weeds in the field of space between us, and then our marriage is a kite
I am running with to hold aloft.

I am tired of running, of looking backwards to see
if the kite is still there, bobbing in our infinite sky.
I need to let go of the string.
It is a beautiful kite, and I love it.
I love it.
But I don’t want a kite.
I want, perhaps, a glass of water.
A letter to read by the bank of a river, or in front of a fire.
A pair of warm socks.
I want something I can put on, hold close, drink from.
There are many things I might be for you,
would be for you, forever:
a sheer curtain, the limb of an oak, a painting
on the wall of a favorite room.
I do not want to be a shovel or a boot.
I do not want to be a cracked teacup, a scratched record,
a shutter banging against the house on a cold night.
I will not be the dog who whines outside your closed door.

Poem is mine. Photo is from: ** RCB ** via Compfight cc

Recently, someone asked about posting their own Wednesday Words and linking to them here. Please let me know in the comments if that’s something you’d like to do. And if you do your own version of Wednesday Words, please feel free to leave a comment with a link to your post. 

13 thoughts on “Wednesday Words: 1.6.16

  1. Kathy says:

    “I want, perhaps, a glass of water.
    A letter to read by the bank of a river, or in front of a fire.
    A pair of warm socks.
    I want something I can put on, hold close, drink from.”

    I like this bit. I like the whole poem, but this part stood out to me. Such simple wants, but when absent, so missed.

  2. Marian says:

    Such a moving poem, Rita. When you wrote it, were you thinking of literal absences or figurative ones? I ask because I have felt both kinds, in my marriage, and they come with quite different feelings and challenges. (And the worst is when the two are combined…)

    I love the imagery in the things you would be: a sheer curtain, the limb of an oak, a painting
    on the wall of a favorite room. And I feel the truth of “wonderings bloom[ing] like weeds”. And I also, like Kathy, think the wants were so simple; not at all too much to ask of a marriage.
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    • Rita says:

      I wrote this many years ago, about a husband who was emotionally absent. The original title was “The Addict’s Wife.” Now, Cane and I are struggling with living apart 50% of the time. It is much harder than I thought it would be, and it made me think of this poem. When I pulled it out to read it again, I was struck by how much of it feels true of this different kind of absence. I did change a line or two, so that it could encompass a wider range of absences, and then changed the title so it would do the same.

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