I once made a diorama from a shoebox
for a man I loved. I was never a crafty person,
but found tiny items at an art store and did my best
to display the beginning bud of our little love,
a scene recreating our first kiss in his basement
apartment, origin story of an eight-year marriage.
In the dollhouse section, I bought a small ceiling fan.
Recreated his black leather couch, even found miniscule
soda cans for the cardboard counters that I cut and glued.
People get weird about divorce. Think it’s contagious.
Think it dirty. I don’t need to make it holy, but it purifies—
It’s clear. Sometimes the science is simple. Sometimes
people love each other but don’t need each other
anymore. Though, I think the tenderness can stay
(if you want it too). I forgive and keep forgiving,
mostly myself. People still ask, what happened?
I know you want a reason, a caution to avoid, but
life rarely tumbles out a cheat sheet. Sometimes
nobody is the monster. I keep seeing him for the first
time at the restaurant off of West End where we met
and worked and giggled at the micros. I keep seeing
his crooked smile and open server book fanned with cash
before we would discover and enter another world
and come back barreling to this one, astronauts
for the better and for the worse, but still spectacular
as we burned back inside this atmosphere to live
separate lives inside other shadow boxes we cannot see.
I remember I said I hate you once when we were driving
back to Nashville, our last long distance. I didn’t mean it.
I said it to hurt him, and it did. I regret that I was capable
of causing pain. I think it’s important to implicate
the self. The knife shouldn’t exit the cake clean.
There is still some residue, some proof of puncture,
some scars you graze to remember the risk.
Copyright © 2021 by Tiana Clark. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 14, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.