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Becca Klaver

Wonder’s Widow

 

I scold myself into offering up my big sadness,

the piece I’m not telling, but the only thing to say

is that my life-grip was always like iron, that I’ve

 

crushed joy like grenache, never knew the dance

or my own goddamn strength, have woken up all

these mornings with stains in the cracks of my lips

 

but no memory of the toast. I’m not some

run-of-the-mill masochist, never wanted to hurt

myself or anybody else. All I’m saying is that it

 

can turn on you, so that all your staring out

the window counting blessings in oak and peony,

all your unbolting the door for every droopy-eyed

 

soul who drops a knapsack on your stoop, so that

every warm room where you gave up holding your

breath, all those tiny wunderengines can quit turning

 

over, all those little joyfruits can shrivel up and say

Sorry, you’ve squeezed us out. Sorry! We are citrus

rinds at your pitcher’s base. Sorry you loved us empty.

 

And you are twenty-three, four, five, and you hide

in the pantry afraid to ask for anything at all, not even

pass the salt, not even salt in the wound, please—

 

You ask for nothing more, until all you have becomes

an abstraction of itself, prim boxes of everyone else’s

Love! Family! Success! Your little robot nod admits

 

nothing, you keep not-asking but still accept each delivery,

signature required or the buzzer keeps up its buzz.

Gift boxes pile up, look at all you’ve been given,

 

it is the wedding day of your self and your wonder

is not invited, sits up in the attic with highball, cigar,

photo album of the days when you were all together

 

and there is just one face, and it is yours.

 

It is mine.

 

This is not about you, general, not about you, reader,

though I wish it were, wish I could shrug it all off—

would rather someone else’s sob story, rather point

a finger at everybody else, Generation Who? Here, let me

tell you about you—In that case I’ll be over-simple and

brutal-true. In that case you’ll hate me but sort of love me,

too, and I’ll wipe my hands clean, harmonic, frou-frou.

Alas, alack, it is mine—the face is a sad-sack

sandwich called Slice of Self with Wonder, called

my life. That was my bread and that was my knife.

Self-imposed—the real tragedy, I suppose.

 

But, oh—I wanted to take us places: down Highway 40

in a metallic pink Cadillac, hair flaming, spirits snaking

like smoke, like the way mine used to. I did, I did, I do.

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