I Wish

Submitted by Sarah Bethany on Fri, 07/28/2017 - 14:15

Seven Months After

I wasn't supposed to see that photo,
but there you are,
on your mother's Facebook profile,
standing on a sidewalk in Florida
(as usual with running
sneakers outrageous
this time orange).
No, tangerine.
With mimosa trees feathering behind you
And your sunglasses colored like golden syrup.

I hunger for you.

The line of your leg is unbearably
sleek (I know),
and your ankle is curved and thin so that I can't figure out
how it holds up your calf --
that muscle, gleaming in the sunlight,
swinging down to the bone where it
attaches to the joint like some trapeze artist.
Then powder-blast of the hands hitting the bar --

and your chest is high: somehow I am only
just noticing this,
though my palms (neck, cheek) must have known it.

And I love -- still --
your sharp clean line of shoulders
where now a cotton shirt, so thin, is barely settling
but skims: it wants to be free and skip in the
Miama wind
and it bats against your skin
so that I can see the steep incline
of your torso
in this
too-still photo.
(I know that shirt, folded it with my hands.)
And I think:

you are beautiful,
painted blue.

But more than this:
What are you holding in your
slightly-pinched fingers?
At what are you smiling
(your teeth like a conch shell) --
something outside the range of the camera? --
not me.
Not thinking of me?

I wish I was wearing a sarong flapping in that wind;
I wish I was just out of range;
I wish I was the sun
reflected in your face,
melting those glasses to syrup,
unveiling those teeth, white as a shell.

* * * * * * * *

Remembering Advice
While Cooking
From An Old Woman I Met
On a Country Walk

You will think of him
at odd times,
she said.

And I do: taking the glass jar
down from the cabinet,

unscrewing the top,
inhaling the
sun-dried tomatoes
until they fill me with the
sharpness of red.

And in the starling's
wing, she said.

In the slope of a
house roof line or

a door ajar, or the

color of meringue

the taste of cider on your

A hillbilly's accent, I
thought, a FedEx truck,
a 50's love song, or
too much ice
slipping from the
the treat
to fall
my heart about
to shatter.

In eagerness for life.

It will lessen, she
said, but

it will never end.

Now my dinner is done: my
quinoa swollen to spirals.

I want to eat it

from the pot, with a spoon
and porcini e shroomami
and the sun-dried tomatoes
and damp.

I threw in peanuts for a prank.

"So cold," he
had whispered to me,
"and so sweet,"

on our last night.
And I wrote about
it, and The New York Times
rejected it today.

I came to Vermont
to write. On my first
evening I said to no one:

I want to
tell you
that my bedroom
is a pale
celery color,

that I can hear the chime
of a maritime clock
and there is a summer rain
outside, car tires
swishing by on the
country street. I am
close to the village. It
is dark. Love, I do

not even know to
whom I am talking."

"Be generous to your reader
and don't over-
share," I was

So I over-share to
friends instead:
texts about the clock, the
raindrops. I stop myself
before I say the word
I'm in my pajamas,
cherry-red on
sheets so-starched,
and my world is sprawled

on the pinewood floor:
a stack of library
books (Mary
Oliver, word-knight Nabokov),
and my gray duffel bag,
and a satchel full of notebooks.

The ding of my
phone keeps loneliness
just outside
the gate. I make
a poem and
remember I
am a farmer,
here to harvest language.

That was good: I feel better.
And now this tomato

is filling
me like all of Italy! --

like Assissi,
a shriveled plum in my mouth. Better
than Williams' plum.

Yes, I could share my heart
tell you
I am leaning
over a pot

eating dinner
in Stowe





But I want to
give more. I take three sips of earthy
port. Vermouth, sorry.
I am just trying
to forget.
To cook, to mix,
to forget. To forget
I'm shaken
to the roots.
He shook me
to the roots.
Vermouth tastes
Speak, memory.

Say that the last time I was here --
I will be generous in my way --
I picked up a rock
on this mountain road
for my first sweetheart,
my girlish one.
The last time I was here,
I closed my fist
over its whiteness,
opened it a-
gain and told
him it looked

I said that. It was
crystal and
cloudy and glitzy
with diamonds
and naughty like coal
in places, murky
and sweet in
others, and this is life
the old woman told me,
this is life,
this is life

this is

this is.

Author's age when written

*The poetry reference is from William Carlos Williams' plum poem, "This is Just to Say"


From someone who writes as well as you do, this feels so good to hear. ^.^ Thanks, Hannah! And it's amazing to think we as writers can give other people a taste of emotional experiences, just through words. Scary actually, haha. But SO cool!!! I experience it all the time as a reader, here on AP and elsewhere. It's magic.

Magic indeed! Magical certainly describes the way you use words in these. Haha yes, the emotional impact of words can be scary if used for ill. But the right words can also inspire empathy, sympathy, action - words can be noble. It really is amazing. And thank you, you're far too kind. :)

I feel like I've just been through a journey with you...or, honestly, the journey myself. You paint these rich landscapes, and it's lovely. This was as delicious as a story, but with the easy, flowing readability of a poem that really emulates the process of thinking.

I can't tell you how much I adore these. You set the scene and then you pull these vivid, sensory details that cultivate a rich landscape.

In the first, I felt the piece just rotate at the end, so that I was looking behind the camera, same as the guy. It was such evocative imagery. My absolute favorite lines:

I wish I was the sun
reflected in your face

I feel like that just epitomizes what the feeling of longing for someone is like.

Oh, and the second. The second was exquisite. I love how it volleys between the moments you're eating, and the moments you're just stuck thinking about him.

Also, The New York Times rejected something? Um. Excuse them.

But seriously, though--that vulnerability there just reached out and pierced me. That was the moment that felt the most visceral, at least for me. Thank you for sharing.

There is so much more I could say but I'm on a time constraint! Blagh!

"Um, excuse them" -- hahahaha, you cracked me up, Maddie :D Thank you for all your beautiful, beautiful comments... they always mean so much, as I know you know!! I love how you pointed out that the piece "rotated" -- I didn't notice that. And how you described the poem as a story but with the easy flow of thinking... how cool!! And what an honor that you feel like you experienced this yourself. Thank you <3

And, Hannah, yes, I totally agree words can be noble!! Inspire us to action and empathy... I thought a lot about that fact, when I read what you commented. Thank you!!

These are so beautiful, Sarah! I couldn't tear my eyes from the page.

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

This poem is so natural (best word for how I want to describe it)! You really delved into how the mind thinks and how the mind narrates. I found that the real fun in reading this. Also like Hannah, I've never dealt with a break-up, but perhaps I have a glimpse of what it feels like.

Introverts unite!
From the comfort of your own homes!

this is life,
this is life
this is
this is

Absolutely breath-taking, the flow, the thought, the imagery. Everything just...perfect.

When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.