Collapsing Poem

I can’t help being drawn back to Kim Addonizio again and again. I love her craft, searing self-knowledge and unblinking honesty. Things to which I aspire.

Collapsing Poem

The woman stands on the front steps, sobbing.
The man stays just inside the house,
leaning against the doorjamb. It’s late, a wet
fog has left a sheer film over the windows
of cars along the street. The woman is drunk.
She begs the man, but he won’t let her in.
Say it matters what happened between them;
say you can’t judge whose fault this all is,
given the lack of context, given your own failures
with those you meant most to love.
Or maybe you don’t care about them yet.
Maybe you need some way
to put yourself in the scene, some minor detail
that will make them seem so real you try to enter
this page to keep them from doing
to each other what you’ve done to someone,
somewhere: think about that for a minute,
while she keeps crying, and he speaks
in a voice so measured and calm he might be
talking to a child frightened by something
perfectly usual: darkness, thunder,
the coldness of the human heart.
But she’s not listening, because now
she’s hitting him, beating her fists against the chest
she laid her head on so many nights.
And by now, if you’ve been moved, it’s because
you’re thinking with regret of the person
this poem set out to remind you of,
and what you want more than anything is what
the man in the poem wants: for her to shut up.
And if you could only drive down that street
and emerge from the fog, maybe you
could get her to stop, but I can’t do it.
All I can do is stand at that open door
making things worse. That’s my talent,
that’s why this poem won’t get finished unless
you drag me from it, away from that man;
for Christ’s sake, hurry up, just pull up and keep
the motor running and take me wherever you’re going.

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