Bio Note: I wrote my first poem in sixth grade and never looked back, knowing I had found myself. I earned a B.A. in Literature from UC Santa Barbara, where I edited the literary journal Spectrum and won The Frank W. Coulter Prize. I was a first-place winner of The Independent poetry competition in Santa Barbara, and my work has appeared in various journals, including Penn Review, Pembroke Magazine, and Blue Unicorn. I live in California with my daughter and our three-legged dog, Sophie.
At least a dozen years since we’ve spoken, and you appear in front of me, with eyes so pained and loving, regretful that we lost more than a decade by your choice. You say this all without voice, and we are miraculously healed— which is easy to do in a dream. It seems the years have not intervened, we pick up where we’d been, but better. Both free of the turmoil of our forties, then in buckling marriages and raising little girls. I don’t know why we could no longer support each other when our lives were at their most troubled. We had chosen opposite responses. Your husband had said it straight, he didn’t love you and wanted out. Mine would not admit the truth, even to himself, and displaced his misery with cruelty to me. You stayed for the children, I left for mine and me. I couldn’t bear for her to believe this slow drip was partnership. Was this the camel’s straw? Having selected diametric action we had to walk our roads alone? I ask because you were the one who stopped. You may see it differently, because I paused. I was so deep in my depression, struggling to survive, I took a dive into myself and for a time you might not have known if I was alive. But I forced myself to surface with the purpose of connecting, apologizing for not protecting our fragile cross- country communication, but assuring you it was no form of rejection. You never answered. I sent my handmade cards and photos of my daughter growing up. I allowed some slack when I didn’t hear back. You might be tossed in your own dark boat, unable to do more than simply float. I waited, sending silent love your way. Then I learned from our mutual friend you were swimming just fine. It was only our friendship that suffered decline. She urged me to reach out, but I knew there was no need. There was no appetite left to feed. I can see our relationship was the kind for a season. I was unsatisfied, and you saw a treason in my ruthless truth and refusal to pacify, thought it was a judgment of your choice to stand by. I saw pattern in your evasive replies, passively choosing but not being honest. You saw it a race, thought I surged in the lead because I cut losses and chose to bleed, while you bandaged your cuts and denied your need. The criticism you felt was a trick of your own. We might have addressed it if you’d managed to grow beyond a habit of hiding your uncomfortable feelings, fearing confrontation, unable to trust that those words could be freeing. I’m left to surmise, but it’s without meaning. Though our ties may be broken, a wish nests in my chest: that grace kisses you daily, you wear health’s embrace like a skin, and when you feel sorrow it’s only a trace. May your children admire you, surprises inspire you, and this dream be a sign we’ve shed any hurt we have held.
here, the sun matters. you don’t take it for granted when fingers numb in ten minutes at three in the afternoon in autumn. drifting across the sky, disinterested, just putting in a day’s work. he’s blue-collar, hard-hat. this city is chimney brick and honking horns; it boils on male energy. they love their sports and churches, their manly edifices of higher learning—all churning with substrata testosterone. oh, so alone, being fluid and gleaming, stirring dreams into my tea just like a woman, yeah, just like a little girl. thank god i’m only a visitor: women die here, they are absorbed like sewage into the harbor. in ten days i haven’t seen the moon once.
Originally published in publication
©2022 Rose Bedrosian
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