I used to wait by the telephone, expecting
self-love to fall absolutely from the sky.
Today he wants me to go back to Balsa Avenue
and open up our old front door. In my mind
flames burned that house and took the doors.
He forgets that, in the middle of making love,
God spoke, cracked the ceiling above us, and warned
watch out. It was as if a meteor were speeding toward us both,
but he rolled out of bed onto all fours, sped alone
into the next room. I was struck by plaster and dust.
For a day my body resembled a slightly bruised
Bartlett pear. He planted little kisses on every mark.
As an apology he carried me up and down our stairs.
And now he wants me to go back and forgive—him
and his mother and the half-naked woman
he danced with just once. And because we are all
stupid and wrong and have traveled with dog shit
on the bottoms of our shoes, and forgotten to give
borrowed pens back, and slept with prostitutes
in parked cars, and robbed banks with loaded pistols,
and loved the wrong people, I don’t hang up.
Even though he may start walking through my dreams again.
Who doesn’t want forgiveness? I talk and wander north,
listening to him under a spoon of stars. Love is ugly.
It never really ends. It hears me coming and waits
on every stair—it’s hoping I arrive feeling lucky,
with my whole heart ready again.
Kristen Tracy’s poems and stories have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Pequod, and elsewhere. She co-edited A Chorus for Peace: A Global Anthology of Poetry by Women (University of Iowa Press, 2002). Her first novel, Lost It, will be published by Simon & Schuster in spring 2007. (4/2006)