Agent of Change


agent of change


I wanted to leave you with something lasting.
To tell you about the fat white peonies
and how they split open early, this Spring;
of how my body finds these new aches
for me, with a fresh decade fleshing itself out.
It’s the only reason I recited the ice-cream story:
that time I ordered orange sherbet and chocolate chip
cookie dough, beneath caramel sauce, with you
grimacing. You had better eat all of that, and I didn’t.
When I hang up the phone I am certain you have
already forgotten me, like something you wipe
with a flat finger from the corner of your eye.
My memories, felicitous myths I change to please
you. My name an old story you managed to hoard
beside the great plains, the depression, the leaking paint
of the first colour television. Where the sapphire set
arrived from has floated away, an orb of knowledge
escaping the earth. Perhaps a part of me is lingering
there, in that haze of a robbed moment; entering a room
deliberately, by accident, where something was placed,
on a mantle, on a table. But what it was or where
to find it? In my summer dress, collared; in my navy
socks, shrinking. With my stringy red ribbon, unraveling.
I meant to mention the conifer, with its ripe teardrop
shape, the way it is still breathing there, I hear,
despite being hit three times. Goes on like that, weeping
without the county funding to tear it down. Funny
the things you forget, twenty years later, beat up
by your lifestyle. I meant to consider the many times
my life was saved without recognition. Walk, you said
to the tree three meters down, cross there and not
at the crossing, where you are too small to skirt
the driver’s poor decision. Taking the corner, some
of the gutter, half of the girl, making a dull sound
and not the scream he expected. There, in that moment
is the worst thing you taught me: that I might change
my fate by considering my footprint. The best thing
you taught me is that a fate is worth changing.
When you boarded a boat to cut a new future, tied a scarf
like the girls in the pictures, to have your picture taken
in your baby blue coat with the star-shaped studs. Your baby
blue coat with the stars, your baby blue. What did you want
but an irreversible love? To forget who the man you are loving,
really is. To never learn he will not be capable of caring
when the dying settles in. We find half of last week’s prescription
rolled in dust, beneath the vinyl furniture. We find you
invincible. Nobody knows which slab of cracked concrete
will be one, the last one to trip you. Walk, you say,
everything living has a future. I know what it means to love
and to fail to impress this deeply enough that the message
cannot bounce back; I know what it means to disappear.
This life, I am taking it. This life I am taking it. This life,
I am writing it down. Here you are, now, face of broken
vessels, skin tight and shining like fresh fruit. This unwashed
floral dressing gown, this chair hollowed by you, a newspaper
that never ends. Believing in your choices and living
your choosing. Digging your heels in.