a month’s end means moving day.
art stripped from walls, cupboards emptied.
music flutters about the emptying rooms,
just as it wiggled into the spaces you once filled up.
and this space you entered, you did it with a partner.
and this space you leave, you do it alone.
you open your small, cheap, cardboard filing case,
to fill with a few more pieces of paper.
there, you pause at the folder marked “personal”,
where you keep newspaper clippings.
you keep birthday cards and letters.
love notes and the bulletin from a wake.
you today are intent in your action of emptying,
to remove the love notes from the woman who left you.
you think it may be fitting to place them into the wood stove
of your soon to be vacated cabin home.
it is early Fall and the ocean is chattering, the forest, mist’d.
the weather ripe for a consumption.
and so you read through these cards and notes,
the professed love that once was
and now has moved on.
like Summer in this early Fall,
like the homes we fleetingly inhabit.
the forms we once took, no longer able
to bear the weight of our being.
the pile of cards grows
and your resolve diminishes.
perhaps one day it will be good to remind yourself
of love’s existence. it might be good to hold these cards again,
with the small round handwriting,
mixed in with cards and letters from other people,
in different ink and hand. the slope and sprawl of each letter,
bringing back into brief form the round
of earlobe, the uniqueness of gait.
time does not intend harm,
though it takes without effort.
someday your memory will be soft and toddling.
and these cards will have lost their meaning.
but you will remember that there are people on this planet,
and you are one of them.
and there was a time when someone sat at a table
or park bench, on an airplane or the corner of a bed.
and they took the love they felt for you
and put it into ink or charcoal.
and they gave it to you.
during some of your formative years, you lived in Chicago.
you walked to the park and to the train.
you walked to school and to the gym.
you walked home.
and in these years you learned to remain watchful,
to read the signs of the neighborhood.
to feel the violence before you see it.
and in your home you were also trained in vigilance.
to feel the mutterings of the house
before hearing first thick sigh,
before seeing yourself stricken to wall
by the chokehold of pinning gaze.
to observe is to be human,
to absorb and interpret data.
on a fine Fall day, bright and cool
but not yet cold, and a fight
out front of your house. turned
from the chirp of shout
to the bark of gunfire.
you of course wanted to see,
so you stood in the large window of your living room.
your mom, fearing an errant bullet,
shrieked at you to get away from the window.
to get down on the ground.
now you have a pile of love letters
from a woman who no longer loves you.
you have a wood stove for a day or two more.
and you thought it might serve as a ritual of healing,
to watch her handwriting dissolve into smoke.
but you place all these cards,
hers and those of different heart,
back into your cheap cardboard filing case.
to hide, only a suggestion of safety.
you know that you will again want to stand
in that blinking living room window.
to put yourself in the possible path
of a mortal wounding. to throw open
your shuttered heart and peel away
your wounds, and look.