There Is Always a Way to Stop Falling
Shake yourself, wake up! And you said yes,
it would be simple enough to leave.
But you stayed, to sweep up
your husband’s rage, even as
your footing slipped, and you
decided to finish the nightmare.
What is it like to plummet,
eyes frozen wide, paralyzed,
the earth rising to break you
like a light bulb on the kitchen floor?
What makes you stand, animal-dumb
on the track with the train blinding you?
You chose your witness carefully;
the moon went full twice that December.
A white paper plate tacked on indigo cloth,
it had earned a second chance to watch
over you as you ended the sentence,
and you were clever about it,
parked in a barren field, in neutral gear,
with a full tank of gas. Period.
Three nights later, a freckled moth
flirted with a hot bright bulb
to distract me from my task of writing
a eulogy on behalf of the neighborhood.
Do you know what he told me, earlier
that day? Obituaries must be purchased,
and he would have no part of that.
While you lay refrigerated in a drawer
that is what he said. Oh! You deserved
so much more than this draining of life.
The final judgment your actions begged for—
sainthood? Damnation? never made it
past the questions. We all went spinning
like whining tops for days, and me,
I could never figure why, except
there was some unsettling pain
that I shared with you, and your absence
rendered it acute and intolerable,
as if we were partners in tug-of-war
and you let go. I do not know
where he shook the contents
of the glossy red box they gave him
“like a goddamn Christmas present.”
Haven’t seen him since. We are
still here though rearranged a bit,
painting over your dark green walls, taking up
your office files, hitting the backhands
fast and low over the tennis net, like you used to.
Me, I struggle at that same end of rope
and I miss your hands being there, helping.
from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 3, December 2006 — by Jan Mueller
photo by Christine Klocek-Lim