my mother used to spread her hands, just so,
and frown at me. and back then, i didn't know
that love is knit from doubt, but tangible as cloth,
but cloth so thin you could feel a collarbone through it
taking the shape of the girl beneath it
and the girl beneath it taking the texture of love.
but i didn't know
frowned down on under draping doubt
that it was why i wasn't cold.
i know it now that i'm without.
it's only nights like this, i think
when my head pounds and your head stares
back at me from the bathroom sink--
it's not like me to even care.
i threw up all the whiskey sours.
i never liked those girly drinks.
it's not like me to long for our
long long-lost longshot dreams of girls
in butterfly gowns at baby showers--
oh, mama, here we are again.
i still don't know when this part ends.
i saw you smiling at your mirror
months after you'd left for good.
that radiance you'd always had
not lost, not even slightly dimmed.
i saw you turn and see me there;
you were so real i think i shook.
you didn't have to say a word.
you smiled, i gaped. you always were
so much more poised than i could be.
i was a teenaged tangled thing
i dreamed i'd steal your diamond ring
to make you cry.
i only think i might know why.
i faked my way through rooms while you
would light them from the doorway;
i learned by watching you for clues.
i tried to do things your way.
you broke my heart a thousand times.
i bet i broke yours more.
i wrote long, vapid, pithy rhymes
and tacked them to your door.
and--i didn't see you off quite right,
as though these were not wrongs enough.
but as i looked to you that night
you smiled at me with so much love.
you smiled with only joy and love.