How My Life Came To Me
Always we served ourselves. Usually
cooked for ourselves, too. But Thanksgiving, dad lowered
turkey onto our plates, the slices expertly gripped
between carving knife and a two-pronged fork—
like that, my life, grandly lowered, everyone watching,
and me asking for only a single slice
which I knew I would not eat.
Or a vest glimpsed on the sale rack, still
too much: Pima cotton, quilted, the color of sand.
I lingered in Menswear forty minutes.
Like that, carried around, tried on
more than once, though I knew I would not, could
not afford it,
my life. That I bought anyway
and did not really enjoy until the first stain.
Or I looked up at it, a dog fixed on a shred of meat
lowered from the oleaginous fingers
of God or fate or whatever
it is in the self that’s master,
onto the hot, wet tongue a body is.
Like that dog receiving
and only in the moment of receiving
feeling a reprieve from wanting.
But other times I came at it, circling
with the full sensory organ of my body
against it, brushing myself on it
and purring till it yielded
or I did.
But most often I waited, an old book,
for the wrinkled skin of its index finger
to run along my deckle edge, to find a spot to crack
me open, my life with its thin finger
brushing its palps along me, word by word—
waited, but my life did not crack me open. It waited, too,
like a gift left in a box,
a box left in an attic,
or, at best, came to me as an unshared, unsought passion
yielded to because bodies
will do that to bodies.
Or like a bandage that cuts off blood
to the ankle, but helps me walk, that over time
wears from my feet and legs the hair
which will never grow back
and is, with the right lover, a charming
thing to explain.
Or a medical vest that regiments an old woman’s pulse,
electrode-studded against her cool, loose flesh
and is, in its constriction—
because to work it must be tight, must be able to receive
every current of her debilitated heart,
is, in its constriction—
but you know what it is,
you, reading these words on a screen.
You too have a life.
You also feel its closure around you.
Read more of Benjamin Grossberg’s poetry.
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Photo by David L/Flickr