Brokeheart: Just like that
When the bass drops on Bill Withers’ Better Off Dead, it’s like 7 a.m. and I confess I’m looking over my shoulder once or twice just to make sure no one in Brooklyn is peeking into my third-floor window to see me in pajamas I haven’t washed for three weeks before I slide from sink to stove in one long groove left foot first then back to the window side with my chin up and both fists clenched like two small sacks of stolen nickels and I can almost hear the silver hit the floor by the dozens when I let loose and sway a little back and just like that I’m a lizard grown two new good legs on a breeze -bent limb. I’m a grown-ass man with a three-day wish and two days to live. And just like that everyone knows my heart’s broke and no one is home. Just like that, I’m water. Just like that, I’m the boat. Just like that, I’m both things in the whole world rocking. Sometimes sadness is just what comes between the dancing. And bam!, my mother’s dead and, bam!, my brother’s children are laughing. Just like—ok, it’s true I can’t pop up from my knees so quick these days and no one ever said I could sing but tell me my body ain’t good enough for this. I’ll count the aches another time, one in each ankle, the sharp spike in my back, this mud-muscle throbbing in my going bones, I’m missing the six biggest screws to hold this blessed mess together. I’m wind- rattled. The wood’s splitting. The hinges are falling off. When the first bridge ends, just like that, I’m a flung open door.
About this Poem
“I started dancing young, pulled off the sofa by my older cousin Emy so we could shake to Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. She, among many people in my life, taught me to dance for the hell of it and dance to celebrate and dance to grieve. My whole life I’ve had to work it out through the body—by which I mean poetry too.”
Patrick Rosal is the author of Brooklyn Antediluvian (Persea Books, 2016), Boneshepherds (Persea, 2011), My American Kundiman (Persea, 2006), and Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive (Persea, 2003). He teaches at Rutgers University-Camden and lives in Philadelphia.
Date Published: 2014-04-18
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/brokeheart-just