It's so many
years since we
touched each other open
in a rhododendron forest.
I cried as the blossoms fell.
I knew we couldn't live like that
forever. Now she faces me in the square
bedroom of our tract house,
a tangle of clothes from the drier
heaped by the bed. I'm still crying,
though it's quieter now.
I'm not going to kill myself.
I always wanted her to look at me
like this, her irises
swelling with tenderness
like I was the first hint
of blue gray light glancing
off the skin of the sea. The varieties
of pain are multitudinous, intricate,
each with its Latin name.
She doesn't stop looking at me.
She can hardly bear to love me this much.
Ellen Bass's most recent poetry books are
The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press), named a Notable Book
of 2007 by the San Francisco Chronicle and Mules of Love (BOA,
2002), which won the Lambda Literary Award. Her non-fiction
books include The Courage to Heal and Free Your Mind. She
teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University. www.ellenbass.com