And what really changed? I slept each night, and each night it was easy,
the red-tipped edge of dreams descending into ash. I got a job
and friends and lived my life with no distraction. I was happy.
My back felt better. I stopped wanting to argue all the time. I read magazines
and cereal boxes and big, thick books that passed through me like clear water. I
found room in my purse for leaves and shells. I looked my husband in the eye
when we spoke, and my mind
was always on the task the at hand, never darting
to the meaning of my doing.
And though sometimes my head ached, and I heard a sort of ringing now
and then, I had real conversations. I talked about the price of gas and weather
and how things were changing in the neighborhood. I listened
to more popular radio. I started wearing makeup. I watched TV,
and apart from the commercials, it seemed interesting and good.
Instead of poetry, I gardened and cooked gigantic meals, heavy
with garlic and olives and expensive, salty meats. I didn’t wonder
what it means that ignorance is bliss. I don’t know
if I was ignorant or blissful.
Yes, it was sometimes hard to breathe. My car would crest a hill
and for a second I would think I saw a column or an arch, a pole
connecting this world to something else. When I swallowed
I thought it might send up a poem. I lost some things
last year. I don’t remember what. I don’t remember what it felt like.
I didn’t change anyone’s mind; I didn’t hurt anyone either.
Yet still, I couldn’t always breathe. I couldn’t always find my way to air.
At a party, when talk turned to the war, I felt
the soft-veined cheese turn to blood in my mouth.