In every myth there is a secret. Like the time I was looking for my childhood around the next bend in the Palisades and missed it, or the time teeth were discovered in my favorite uncle's yard and he disclaimed ownership and sang falsettos.
I went to a meeting on 28th Street. The guy next to me had eyes exactly like yours, corpuscles hardening inside blue irises. He stood too close when he told me I would die if I didn't ease up on myself. I thought he was right but I wanted him to step back so I didn't have to see inside his liver, which was sodden, like mine, with tinges of red, white, and rosé.
He talked to himself in the middle of the room, the way he would talk to anyone who used hyperbole. He said: I tried suicide but it didn't work. When he stuck out his hand I shook it.
I walked with him down 8th and we parted at 21st. I thought of all the times I'd dozed in my car near the river, how cops would come to my window and tap, telling me it wasn't safe for a woman in the middle of the day in a car by the river in a world like this one.
Now there's snow in Chelsea and my soul leaps in something I've heard described as bliss. You're never far in winter, I realize, and here is the secret: If you'd lived you'd be asleep now beside me, bent around me like an aura, keeping me safer than I ever thought I had the right to be.
Copyright © 2019 by Maureen Seaton
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Maureen Seaton has authored twenty-one poetry collections, both solo and collaborative, recently, Fisher (Black Lawrence Press, 2018) and Sweet World (CavanKerry Press, 2019). Her awards include the Iowa Prize, Lambda Literary Award, Audre Lorde Award, the NEA, and two Pushcarts. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry and many literary journals and anthologies. A memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin, 2008, 2018), also garnered a “Lammy.” Seaton is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Miami.
"Tender, elegiac, searing—Maureen Seaton's new collection is all of these and more. With virtuosic skill and precision, she casts line after quicksilver line to create a moving, prismatic portrait of a suicide. Along the way, we get dazzling meditations on rivers, fly fishing, wilderness, sex, violence, and death. Yet despite the dark subject matter, Fisher, to quote one of its poems, is a book 'whose pages are aflame with life.'"
"Maureen Seaton recasts the line again and again into her memories of a togetherness that was fearless and free, 'gauntly sexual beside the Hudson.' Each time, lots of tug in that hard-running river. The waters of Fisher are Heraclitean, and keep turning with each rediscovery: now the realm may be careless youth, apparently suspended; now, sleep where everything is reconstituted, including grief; now, a blurry image of present survival, from 'the cool dim in the decade of your suicide.' Strong, swift, glinting, deep, this book delivers the mystery in its elegy, then keeps coursing."