Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,
I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.
* * *
One of my biggest life regrets is existing so much in my own world as a 17-year-old that I somehow failed to notice that one of my favorite poets was a guest professor at my university the year I started college. When I realized, a few months too late, I was totally crestfallen. Marie Howe informed my writing style so much in my earlier teenage years. Her work is still an inspiration. Even after years & years, I continue to seek refuge in this poem. Lately, I’ve been reading it to my yoga students just before coaxing them out of savasana. Morbid? Maybe. But what a beautiful reminder to always be gripped by a deep cherishing for yourself, imperfections & all.