Envelope


             

1.


My friend gasped when I told her my husband is going to the coast

             with his two best friends that happen to be women

but just because my friend’s husband is leaving her doesn’t mean I shouldn’t trust mine

so I make a grocery list while she lectures me on the danger ahead

             I need milk & cereal & oranges & dryer sheets &

poetry that doesn’t always have to be about something because it is an ocean of moments

             teeming with details begging to be remembered

like the time I heard an artist say “I’d like to be an envelope but I can’t fold myself”

             & I know what that means because I am always wishing

             I could fold myself into a hiding place for everything too fragile

                          like my mother

                                       who is learning how to go through a car wash because she’s never been

                                       without a husband who cleans gutters & does taxes

                                       but now she sleeps alone with his wedding ring on her thumb

                          & my brother

                                       who is careless in the way that he has three life insurance policies

                                       but doesn’t believe in painter’s tape & is having a bonfire tonight

                                       even though there is only twenty percent humidity in the air & will

                                       possibly spark into a blaze & startle his neighbor’s small horses

                          & my grandmother

                                       who is stunningly functional for someone who watched

                                       her mother bloom into bruises beneath her father’s ugly rain

                                       & was punished with time outs in the oven

but I’d rather think about whether ponies are just small horses or if they’re their own species

             & how often dolphins have to come up for air when they’re sleeping

because I wish I could unconsciously drift up out of the crushing current

             to breathe every once in a while

instead of this thrashing & frantic wanting

             for something animal, instinctual

             that is no responsibility of mine




2.


I bring my friend tissues & raspberry gelato because I have no idea

             how to help her decide what she should get out of her divorce

but I do know how to wallow because sometimes

I don’t want to be the envelope anymore—

             all I want is to close my eyes, breathe the heavy linen air, the glue on the stamp

        to breathe like dolphins who sleep with only half of their brains

                                       so they can keep up the ups & downs of their lungs

                          & maybe that way I could avoid dreaming of my father

                                       who lectures me about the importance of locking doors & I

                                       wake up afraid I’ve forgotten to lock every door in my life

                                                    & I was never brave enough to refuse my father anything

                                                    so the disobedience is a fragile thing

                                                    when I leave my car unlocked

                          & it’s easier now, living with his echo instead of his shadow

                                       easier to remember his tenderness

                                  how he covered his mother’s hands with her scarf

                                  in the casket because she would’ve been

                                                    embarrassed for anyone to see the bruises

                                                    & then he held my hand as we walked away

                                                                 later when I stood at his bedside & remembered

                                                                 I wished he could hold my hand again

& I wish I could write something that wouldn’t break me

             something about grocery lists or my favorite French 75 recipe

        easy on the simple syrup, double the lemons

             or facts I’ve learned about babies

                          while keeping my friend’s little one from falling

             like how their knees are just safe, squishy cartilage

                                       until they harden to bone at three years old

but having a squishy heart hasn’t kept mine from breaking &

             I can’t keep the dreams from swimming into whichever

             half of my brain is sleeping, dreams where my father

        complains he doesn’t like the bathroom remodel

        & I have to remind him that he isn’t here

        anymore so he doesn’t get a vote

while trying to fold myself smaller & smaller

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