A Poet's Kiss

Albuquerque poet Mary Oishi puts poems, pictures, and thoughts here for her family and friends, and for lovers of poetry everywhere.

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

a place for sorrow

a place for sorrow

when my friend jo goes out
she puts her sorrow in a kitchen drawer
between the vegetable peeler and the spatulas
and covers it with a bright red hot pad
to keep it warm and comforted while she’s away
don’t worry, she tells her sorrow,
i’ll be back to keep you company
but i can’t take you with me
out into the world—not out there
i’ve got volunteer work to do
political causes, research at the university

while she’s gone
she won’t think back all those years
to the night the police officer
shows up at her door at midnight
she knows him, shawn, he’s in her night class
at the university
she’s happy to see him—
they don’t get much company these days at any hour
her son is never in trouble
such a good boy
she knows this must be a friendly visit
while shawn is on patrol
she invites him into the living room
is your husband here, he asks
oh, such a gentleman, she thinks
can you get him?
oh, he really wants to meet bill, okay

drunk driver…so sorry…your son…

that’s what shawn comes to say at midnight?

but…but…he just graduated college…
his fiance…such a lovely girl…

she asks, expressionless, do you want a cup of tea?

now from the kitchen drawer her sorrow beckons
but she gently reassures it on her way out the door
i won’t leave you very long
her psychiatrist friend says
why don’t you flush it down the commode
oh no, she says, then it might go bother someone else
and this is my sorrow
i’ve got shoulders to carry it
and i’ve got the perfect place to keep it
while I’m gone

jo rarely leaves the house
now that she’s a fourscore widow
that old sorrow’s getting more insistent every day
so she invites others in for tea and conversation
and speaks of healthcare policy
of obscure history from her native spain
of today’s headlines, two police officers gunned down
in the line of duty
of gloria steinem’s refrigerator
sparsed with only scotch and ice cream
of her late husband’s woodcuts
done in taos where light is grand
of her poor proud students who
would never think of buying day-old bread
of greenwich village back when you could walk at night
of happier days when her son made that sugar bowl
from two small jars
she recalls the hippies with a smile
groove on it, that’s what they used to say

and all the while her old companion drapes her shoulders
brooding, brooding straight at you
and you can never quite spend time with jo alone

mary oishi
26 august 2005


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