There Are Two Magics
he said describing the fantasy novel he was reading as they walked the drizzled streets she was listening & laughing & realized she'd been walking through one city or another next to this man for more than twenty years longer of course than their kids were old their smart alecky sons who hadn't yet met the person with whom they might walk through rain discussing ridiculous books with great sincerity & pleasure Seriously he said I can't stop reading it but when they went upstairs to the good bed in the good hotel he did stop reading & found a place where her shoulder met her neck & touched it until her mind finally went away for a while & they became bedraggled & he went out like a light but not even the good bed at the good hotel after good sex could put her to sleep not the meditation app or the long online essay about the White Supremacy of Conceptual Poetry she missed her dead mother & her middle-aged cousin who'd died the summer before she wondered if miles away her youngest was whimpering was her oldest awake texting was her middle son worrying she wanted the husband to tell her the plot again but didn't want to wake him he lay over the covers on his back his breath audible & regular folded hands rising & falling peaceful & fearless as if she'd never once meant him harm as if she'd always loved this warm animal as if this were not the same summer she'd said If that's really how you feel this isn't going to last & he hadn't said anything anger sadness doubt & disappointment was a wave that slapped them down & under so many people had died & life felt shorter than how long they'd been together they had through so many omissions & commissions hurt & been hurt it was that same summer but she was alive & awake he was asleep & alive they were weak but still there
Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Zucker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I wrote this poem two summers ago in Portland, Maine, where my husband and I were spending a few days away from our three sons. There are surprisingly few poems about the complexity of long relationships. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that there are fewer poems about long-term relationships and parenting teenage or adult children than I need. Without poems to light the way, a path is even harder to discern and/or invent. Josh and I have been together for twenty-four years. That summer he was reading The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb.”
Rachel Zucker's poetry collections include The Pedestrians (Wave Books, 2014), Museum of Accidents (Wave Books, 2009), and The Bad Wife Handbook (Wesleyan University Press, 2007).
Date Published: 2018-06-04
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/there-are-two-magics