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Poem: We Have All Been There 

We Have All Been There
    for Lisa Nowak

Don’t act so superior, we have all been there,
the festering anxiety, the sudden break-up,
the “let’s still be friends” routine,
the training together anyway for the spring regatta, already paid for,

the horrid discovery, notes in the e-mail,
someone else’s lipstick on a beer can,
moon boots not in your size drying in the garage,

the frantic journey, diapered either in body or spirit because
you’re trying to save all the shit for the one who deserves it,
not the Quickie-Mart cashier, highway toll taker,
not your kids, the poor bastards, you’ll spend more time

after all this, all this is settled, not the loving, earthbound spouse,
you loved him once, but he has become boring,
you can’t share anything about the stars with him,
the clarity of the Milky Way when you’re RIGHT THERE,
you just can’t explain it, there’s no going back.

We’ve all had our showdowns, in false nose, fright wig, greasepaint moustache,
needing to talk, needing to explain how he is the world to you,
flawed and fragmented as it is, angry at how it has turned out,
all your mixed up plans, your sacrifices,
how it will feel for the rest of your life in Texas without him,
how space will never be big enough for the three of you.

We’ve all shone the steel mallet, the paper cutter, the National Geographics
roped together with kitchen twine, the goosehorn, the channel changer,
half a tuna sandwich wrapped in oily-smelling industrial saran,
our teeth, bare to the pepper spray and all things unsafe.

We have all been to this place we never imagined visiting, traveling
the worst possible roads, in the worst direction we’d ever dreamed of,
behaving so badly that we will never tell even our most faithful sympathizers.
We will leave that to the tabloids, and they never get the whole story,
his promises in the deep of weightless night, three years of hiding
in starlight, letting yourself in, the smell of his cotton sheets.

They take the isolated meltdown, reentry short circuit, and let it lead.
Nobody cares what happens after, the stifled career, the kids, the quiet divorce.
The moon remains steady, unphased in her old routine.
We have all been there, and they don’t call lovers lunatics for nothing.


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