Author's Note: These are from a while ago, yet they address some of the feelings of loss and separation we have been experiencing with both the pandemic and the divided state of our nation. These griefs, personal and public, cry out for healing, for resolutions that can bridge differences without denial. These days we would be grateful to have only “ordinary pain.”
When I Was Lost
you never would admit it. We kept up a jagged conversation over miles and miles of imaginary space. Anyone watching would think we were in the same room, only because they couldn’t see the deep gulf, the mountain cliffs that came between us. We knew better. We had our own system, rigged with lights and signals. We kept in touch. All the while you pretended nothing much was wrong, and I saw the world ending. No matter who was closer to the truth, those gaps and valleys are gone now, and our geography is tame. I like it here where nothing promises more than it will give and we can live with ordinary pain.
Originally published in Caketrain, issue 3, 2005
When you left me darkness opened up at my feet and I froze just where I was, robbed of any destination, lonely as the man in a space suit, or the deep sea diver who must carry all his air with him. I can’t come up too fast or I will die of grief blooming like a deadly gas in my blood. What is left here anyway? The hills rolled out flat into deserts, the rivers pulled back into the earth leaving dry beds cracked and crazed like glazed china hot from the kiln. I will not bend. I do not care what rules I break. I will stand here and howl my loss beneath the stony moon until even you will hear me.
Originally published in the anthology “Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge”
©2021 Mary McCarthy
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