A CROWN FOR THE DIVORCEE AT FIFTY-NINE

 

1.

You never thought the absence would be you:

The time like socks, or tasks done in a row.

Of course, it’s not all like that:  there’s more quiet,

And there’s more time to have the camembert,

The movies at the Ritz—the meal at Parc?—

The discount markers for the coming dark.

The irony’s the setting is for one.

The passing shock is just multiplication,

Like chalk pastels reverberating.

But other times it’s sad, like grief or the waiting

People do when someone’s passing. Writing

Might be the best approach, or more reading:

The Swedish language sitting there for you.

You never thought you’d look for more to do.

 

2.

You never thought you’d look for more to do.

Yet that is where you are.  The narrative

On Facebook is cliché.  The parted wave

Against her skin—the style you used to know—

Reminded you he’d given love away.

We all have things we do and don’t abide,

And yours was love, like silk or leopard, tried,

But only love that’s honest, not the lie.

It was imaginary:  this whole thing,

Not that it didn’t happen (as it did),

It just was all played out, a redone story

You couldn’t quite believe:  like the Louise Penny

You were figuring out.  And it was unexpected.

That’s why they say the story needs revising.

 

3.

That’s why they say the story needs revising.

All the sad tropes one more time.  Your friend has said

That one day you wake up and love is phasing

Into something else.  Not that you understood.

Not that you thought the whistling trees, in quiet,

Were more than their sweet sound, a new disquiet,

Because you have to live the story through.

(Sometimes it is no longer entre nous.)

Occasionally you think of what it’s like

To peer inside the stores along the street:

Someone moving through each roller/rack

With a rapt expression, like an aesthete,

Might just be you, might be your body double.

It’s you outside your momentary label.

 

4.

It’s you outside the momentary label.

It’s difficult to think who you will be.

All your previous selves, your old identity,

Re-done in vintage.  The body double

Is just that you are you and someone else,

As if you were time travelling just now:

Like an eraser, rubbing out your marriage shadow.

Here you’ve emerged, and not as someone false.

Put on your sparkly sneakers and Chanel;

Put on your silence and your “all is well”:

As with all things, your thinking makes it true.

What are you going to do and not to do?

Try the sleeveless dress:  light aquamarine.

Then, when you do, you turn and ask a question.

 

5.

Then, when you do, you turn and ask a question.

A cabernet sauvignon?  You toast: To me!

A poignant feeling because you’re also saddened

By the way life has gone.  It’s destiny,

They say, but you’ve always had a choice,

A sense of purpose, and a driven voice.

You are not stopping now, nor will you say

That during this year, life will fall away.

Your son turns, with his music, grace,

The open lily of his changing face.

So much to move life forward, and reserve;

So much to see, recover, and deserve.

Even in these sadder states, there’s good,

Roast chicken, champagne.  Music for the mood.

 

6.

Roast chicken, champagne, music for the mood:

Life cannot be the simple, practical,

But it can give you joy, heretical

And paradisiacal at once.  It should.

As if you were inside a “Make Your Own

Adventure,” or “Tell The Story Once Again.”

It’s fine to sculpt a mood.  You go to see

A film, and think of time in a new way.

Later, you will write, and read your book,

Prepare your classes, and then have a look

At the future.  One reason it is difficult

Is that it is untested, a la carte.

You want to try the flavors, in each part.

You want to know it not just in result.

 

7.

You want to see it, not just in result.

It’s what you haven’t done—nobody’s fault—

And still do want.  It’s not that everything has died:

It’s been reborn.  Your fingers steeple God,

And you think, just now, of what you can become.

In the rewritten poems of life, the lamb

Lies down, and in its kindness, there is awe.

There’s no one way, and no one final law.

When you get up, you listen to the trees;

You listen to your heart, open your eyes.

It’s time for coffee, oatmeal, and the sun.

Then later there is music.  On the horizon,

There’s the whole grand morning, like the dew.

You never thought the absence would be you.

 

 

Kim Bridgford is the director of Poetry by the Sea and the editor of Mezzo Cammin. The author of twelve books, she is the recipient of grants from the NEA, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and the Ucross Foundation. With visual artist Jo Yarrington, she is the author of a three-book series, The Falling Edge, a poetry/photography collaboration on Iceland, Venezuela, and Bhutan, which is forthcoming.

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