The word spits itself out
of its own accord.
I used to get stomach viruses that kept me up all night.
Now I get vocabulary viruses,
The day the neighbours' house burned down
and took the baby with it
the knickknacks and the fingerpaintings
You stood on the sidewalk
in the aftermath
with your new Olympus C-2100 Ultra Zoom
Focusing too fast
Past the dripping, arthritic furniture
Past the exposed insides of the autopsied walls
Past the melted sneakers
(kicked off carelessly for the last time mere hours ago)
to find a spot far beyond
the chain-link fence at the end of the yard.
You were inexperienced,
your novice camera overwhelmed.
I have declared a war on the insensitive entity that is your steady hand.
Remember that day?
It was a crisp
The day the sky fell
I hid with my survivor's guilt in the basement.
You came home from work
and before the sun set
you were already complaining about
as though remembering to mourn
at a set time
a set place
was too much trouble for you
like setting your clocks forward in the spring.
You always left them as is
and told me to add an hour in my head
It was less trouble that way.
What is the half-life of guilt?
Can I carry your share as well as mine?
I would like to feel the guilt of all survivors on my shoulders alone.
I would like to punish us all for our roll of the dice.
By pure chance we've made it
counting up from the end of time.
Tonight you mark your territory with politics like urine.
A stinking border I am not allowed to cross.
tells me I'm
I cry because he's right.
after the fight
I was watching you
with that slight tilt you have
and I spun
and tried to find something to walk towards.
We went to Saint-Andrews-By-The-Sea
ten years or so ago
I still remember
leaving a day early
when we realized at lunch
that we were sitting
in other people's places,
their particular shapes
-- the grooves and contours
left there after years
of same-place-same-time --
making our dining uncomfortable.
that spittable word.
You sit in the lap of someone else's grief
like a child in church on Easter Sunday
squirming uncomfortably in her tights
and waiting for the ceremonies to end.
(September 11, 2002)