A fist through the pane of our picture window and everything
broken between us. The ancient glass shattered, and my wife
rose from her separate bed wanting to know what happened.
But how could I explain the radiator's cracked gasping that
kept me from sleep, the secret life, how I had taken up
smoking just for the excuse of some small heat, and then tonight
when the winter-warped window would not lift, how I let loose that
helpless hook? Wind flowed through the room, blowing white
across the column of snow still pillared against the screen.
She crossed the freezing tile toward my silence and held my hand
now sequined with shards lodged deep in the chapped knuckles.
And, Jesus, how easily she massaged each piece of glass
from the skin, applying the sting of iodine with a swab as if
to bring back every feeling. But when she unrolled the gauze
like a sacred scroll and wrapped my hand in it, I had to turn to her,
had to touch her flushed, half-feverish cheeks once more.
I had to trust those clear streaks cutting tracks down her face
were more than simply the tricks of weak streetlight trying to shine.
Never mind that kind of turning back has always been
punished. Didn't Lot too, just once more, want not only to look
back, but also to return to the arms of his lost wife, that
metaphorical salt? Didn't he want one more kiss, one last taste
to see him through the rest of that endless desert, now alone?
The Book of What Stays
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright © 2011 by the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission