Something terrible may one day happen to you.
A car accident in the countryside when you are collecting
two new kittens for your children. A random act of terrorism
in a café you nipped into while looking for a book of poetry
(perhaps even for me). A subway derailment as you travel to
work after making breakfast for your family. A heart attack
on a Tuesday morning. A drunk driver careening into a busy
sidewalk. A misstep on the stairs of your university's fire exit.
Or, much more likely, something small and without reason
I would never know.
Our lines of communications would just end.
Maybe you finally had second thoughts, or feelings of guilt,
and lacked the courage to tell me.
Maybe the time finally came when you chose your family
It would be my burden to respect not hearing from you. Those
who love you like I do, your wife, your children, your in-laws
and family members, they would be the ones to plan details.
In the ways that loved ones do. With phone lists and contact
sheets and word of mouth.
I am a detail impossible to factor in.
Distance is what defines a lover.
I am far from waking up beside you day after day. I am separate
from leaking windows and weeds in the driveway. I am beyond
a kitchen sink with dishes calling.
I will never experience mourning you publicly.
I will never see how your youngest child brought you close to tears
by asking why red finger paint looks so much like the blood of
that woman you all saw in a faraway place last night on TV
this tender wound is my missing your body, standing on a lake
shore with the sun at my back, my shadow-outline fractured
into filaments and halo shards broken into summer fattened
fish i dissolve into thick overlapping scales, protective but
useless against a hurt that is nothing at all, the nothing of
emptiness gaping between rock edges torn apart from millennia
of seismic shuddering, of sky wedges visible between red cedar
roots upended and hurled into driftwood with tide stripped-back
bark, the nothing of the unlit moon when it rises far from full
and we simply trust that what is not visible exists, like you, not
here with your hips settling against my lower back you not here
with your thumb in my mouth you not here with your hand
resting between my upper thighs and you are not a river during
break-up full against banks straining through muscled ice blocks
nor are you the wrist-thick sturdy roots of water lilies wedged
firmly into muskeg bogs warm below the line of decomposition,
you are certainly not and this aches.