It’s Your Obsession with Bears and Pregnancy and the Plots
of Your Own Dreams That Bore Those around You Practically
It’s your obsession with bears and pregnancy and the plots of your own dreams that bore those around you practically to tears, though they are too kind or occupied to say so to your face. It’s your reliance on the easily-gotten, the universal, the widely-accepted and perfectly explainable in the world that confounds those around you who expect more from someone with so much time on her hands. Have you finished reading that fat book we assigned you about the sparkling dynastic lineage yet? It’s your inability to manipulate the steam furnace valve, rusted and out-of-reach though it may be, that forces your father into saying harsh things to you under the stucco archway as he enters the house from the garage. Yes, it does cut your elbow as you pass. It’s your “remorseless insistence on free verse” that, we’re sorry, makes this manuscript unsuitable for publication at this time. It’s your preoccupation with corporal rhythms, with sleep and wake cycles, feeding and elimination schedules, whether or not an eye can track an object past the midline of the body, that propels us away from you and back to our smart-talk, our dog-eared copy and our notebook on the bus. It’s your naïve expectation that your father, upon seeing the charred remains of the car in the driveway, its wheels melded to asphalt, the vinyl siding sliding like pudding into a chemical pool, would say something other than “look what you did to my house.” It’s your penchant for feckless musing that infuriates those around you who have placed wagers—that’s good money, cold, hard cash —on whether or not you will finally complete your grieving, help your husband to melt the photos of your old boyfriend in the microwave and move on. Don’t you know how much this has hurt him? Don’t you know how much this has hurt all men? It’s your absolute refusal to see anything beyond the fact of patchy dry skin and relentless nail growth, beyond milky fluids and all the mundane details, that causes us to call into question your commitment to your art. It’s your belief that art is like skin and nails—which is to say, both fluid and relentless—that eliminates you as a serious contender for the part we once thought you perfectly suited to play.
Author Discusses Poems