Nearly a Valediction
You happened to me. I was happened to like an abandoned building by a bull- dozer, like the van that missed my skull happened a two-inch gash across my chin. You were as deep down as I've ever been. You were inside me like my pulse. A new- born flailing toward maternal heartbeat through the shock of cold and glare: when you were gone, swaddled in strange air I was that alone again, inventing life left after you. I don't want to remember you as that four o'clock in the morning eight months long after you happened to me like a wrong number at midnight that blew up the phone bill to an astronomical unknown quantity in a foreign currency. The U.S. dollar dived since you happened to me. You've grown into your skin since then; you've grown into the space you measure with someone you can love back without a caveat. While I love somebody I learn to live with through the downpulled winter days' routine wakings and sleepings, half-and-half caffeine- assisted mornings, laundry, stock-pots, dust- balls in the hallway, lists instead of longing, trust that what comes next comes after what came first. She'll never be a story I make up. You were the one I didn't know where to stop. If I had blamed you, now I could forgive you, but what made my cold hand, back in prox- imity to your hair, your mouth, your mind, want where it no way ought to be, defined by where it was, and was and was until the whole globed swelling liquefied and spilled through one cheek's nap, a syllable, a tear, was never blame, whatever I wished it were. You were the weather in my neighborhood. You were the epic in the episode. You were the year poised on the equinox.
"Against Elegies," from Winter Numbers by Marilyn Hacker. Copyright © 1994 by Marilyn Hacker. Used by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.