Blank is the map of my brain secreting
pearls of commas and semi colons
but not any periods of value in the winter.
Dead is the ink in my pen,
a skunk discharging odor of garlic wrapped
in rotten rhythms, in the middle of spring.
White is the shadow of the blue bedspread
drowning the bones of sentences
with tears on a hot summer day.
Barren is the womb
of words hanging at the cemetery,
as maple reaches the well of autumn.
I decry the moment of write right
with seasons escaping tunnels of distraction,
becoming a noose around the fingertip.
I was prepared for the Awkward Age
the physical changes, personality,
frustration, exasperation, even rage—
but not for this.
I was prepared to smile knowingly, thinking
This too shall pass.
And we will always love each other, I tell myself
as much as it is possible to love anyone
You are in your room, alone, with a book.
Who taught you how to read?
Seemed like a good idea at the time.
My questions are greeted with
monosyllabic replies, grunts really,
and eye rolls, withering looks, sarcasm—
the lowest form of human discourse—
and finally the screaming:
Why can’t you just leave me alone?
I still remember reading you Charlotte’s Web
taking you for long walks in the rain
through the San Juan Mountains
watching you sneak downstairs after bedtime
so we could watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer
coming to the choir loft
midway through the service
so you could sit on my lap.
The Awkward Age is supposed to be
awkward for you, not me. I should
be the parent
but instead I’m a marionette
with tangled strings, a poor sap trapped
in Shelob’s web
a capeless hero, destroyed
by a new color of kryptonite
and you are the elusive hummingbird
who hovers in midair for a short time
and then skitters away
faster than my eye can follow.
In my dream
I am the Nobel Prize winner
and he is the quiet admirer at the foot of the stairs.
He is decidedly modest about the popularity of his work
just as I say nothing about my recent raves in the Utne Reader
I am with a woman named Genevieve
(pronounced the French way).
She is tall and slender and wears a black dress
slit between the legs
pearls and a diamond pendant
and her eyes tell everyone in the room that she adores me
while he is with a chick from the hood named Darla
who is wearing open-toed sandals and capris.
My books are displayed in hermetically sealed library cases
along with literary memorabilia
and a few choice photographs from my distinguished past.
Some of the guests attending the reception
tell him that they bought his latest book
for a hospitalized aunt
or a black sheep brother who didn’t go to college.
I am generous when I meet him
and say how much I admire his work
even though I don’t.
Our lady friends size each other up
and he and I exchange a long, transporting gaze.
He realizes that I am envious of his popularity with readers
just as he resents my astounding success
in the faculty lounge.