Attachments on a very rainy day
Hanging in the balance as the rain comes down
Hard, gathering in the gutters, gushing
Down the pavement, dripping from the trees,
In my little cosmos today,
This last Sunday of 2013,
A year of disappointment and discovery,
Are so many lives whose stories
Prick the membrane of my ignorance,
Imagined permanence, normalcy.
The good father of the boy downstairs
Who converses with himself and no one as he moves
From door to bus and back again
Who, when you salute him, pauses
His conversation, fixes you, and shouts
“Hello! How you doing?”
Before continuing his dialogue of one—
That father pulled up today in the rain
To take his boy to lunch or church or
Home to see his mother whom he sees
Only weekends because he lives, you see,
Alma wrote today, of all days,
After years of silence,
An acquaintance, really,
Afflicted by a litany of ailments caused by others,
Says she, not by nature or by chance,
And now, to top it off, she’s being sued, she says,
By a man she dated who says she created,
Spurned, an ugly blog.
“I didn’t do it!—I’ve been set up!”
She cries, without conviction,
Having gone around the bend.
A friend and lover from the past whom I treated badly
Retired last week from a brilliant career.
Lonely all her life, but positive and skilled,
She found a mate three years ago, a man I knew
When we were boys, a fine and funny
Loving man, good father, performer,
Giver of pleasure, as positive as she,
Even now as he waits for doctors to remove
Most of his stomach.
He will leave our brilliant friend
On the threshold of her future.
My sister phoned just now to say she’d taken off
For Madison as was her plan,
Back to see her doctors and a man
She doesn’t trust but, she says,
"He’s all I’ve got! I can’t live without love!"
But, Susan, consider this, wait for love and trust,
The two together are so much better, and
Love untrusted is desolation.
At Christmas we went with Susan’s dog
To see our father where he lives
Independently (for now) in a home,
Visits that are hard for Susan, who feels at 58
That she never counted for her father.
And as we left, from his couch,
Having hushed the din swelling from the screen
That masks bewilderment at aging and
The anxieties he’s always had
And seems to think are normal—
Having calmed the TV down
He thanked me for coming,
Drew in a breath, then thanked the dog
For coming, too,
And the tears
Sprang from Susan’s eyes, deep brown
Like our father’s. He didn’t see her.
I see my Lucy, trusted, treasured,
Sane and healthy, loved and loving, torn.
I see her in my mind, in the slanting rain.
I see her struggle with the man she says
She’s ceased to love but with whom she has
Shared half a lifetime, a house, a home
And now must try, she thinks, to quit because
“This can’t go on.” This week, she says,
Will resolve their struggle: One will go,
Or both will stay.
In the balance hangs
My foolish heart on this rainy day.