May 13, 2015

Closure. {Poem}

article photo wolffe

Closure For KC

Shortly after you disappeared
Spring arrived: first the forsythia and azaleas,
Then the weeping cherries, the magnolias
Burst, even the violets scatter shot on the ground:
Stunning us with their recurrent beauty
It had been a long winter.

True, it wasn’t love, yet
We were still in that space
Before articulation,
In between knowing, anything, about how we truly felt
Still, there were dreams in which I made you my home
perhaps just because I had grown exhausted wandering the streets,
and because you made me laugh,
and we were already in that place where we finished each other’s sentences,
our fragility had toughened, like a green branch
The beginning is always the hardest.

It is said that we love another person
for the grace with which they hold up the mirror for us.
You did that for me. The groundwork had already been laid
And so, in your absence,
that validation severed
the green branch bowed
And there was that extra hour
When the sunlight unsettled
And made me acutely aware of how homeless my heart had become
The question of whether I was replaced or abandoned
Or just a casualty in your own private war
Itched, like a phantom limb.

The way that you left so abruptly, with no words, no note, no explanation
Claiming only that you were in pain,
Leaving me mind stumped, stuck with inertia
In the ridiculous position of being enraged with a ghost
Without recourse
Without closure
Is familiar, and seems to revisit me every decade or so.
You had no way of knowing that, though
And what motivated you
Probably had little to do with me.

The indignity of being castaway
Out of context
Excavated shame
and put me in touch with real anger
That was so foreign, yet so ancient to me
I had no choice but to possess it.
When I did, that, it was almost cleansing.

As if that had been the point all along.

This is the curious thing about relationships
Two people rarely read the same storyline,
Truth comes in the white space in between words
In the things that can’t really be expressed,
the details that create meaning for us,
by their nature can never truly be shared
And so we are instructed not to take these things personally
To trust, that whatever we are meant to experience, happened
It is only our reactions that matter.

I don’t have to look too hard to know how being with you changed me
Through you I witnessed a father who raised his daughters himself,
devoted enough to take pride in the way he braided their hair,
protected them
Against things they are not meant to see.
You taught me how to commit to decisions, without fuss,
and oddly enough I learned patience
In waiting for you, because your intentions were never to harm.

From you I took the yellow ceramic bowls, a shared penchant for diner counters,
an appreciation of the kind of broken antiques that wind up at dusty old stores,
heavy hotel blankets—wooden water towers,
off season beach towns at the end of the road.
From you, I took the belief that old souls leave the earth when a child is born
and those rare moments when we spoke on the phone
and something flooded my heart,
That validation,
and reassurance,
knowing another person who has always watched conversation
because that is the way we are wired.

Change doesn’t come easy.
It is what we don’t want to see, the things that will hurt us
That often forecast what will come.
Looking back I remember how often I had glimpsed
the private way you safeguarded your heart
Shrinking from intimacy, yet trying to coax yourself into it
It was the way I’d been with most men in my past
The way I might also have been with you
But wasn’t.

It happens.
The candles we lit in the churches, in the doorways of the people we touch
Eventually burn out. The smoke drifts to the sky
And we sit on the steps, absolving ourselves
Trying to fathom what we learned.

When I look up the flowering trees no longer seem angry in their profusion
No longer having to prove they belong, but simply, are.
Our roots run deep under the snow covered ground
No matter how disoriented we get in the cold or the darkness
When the season has turned, we still bloom.


Author: Danielle Wolffe

Apprentice Editor: Jennifer Dowdy/Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Used with Permission from Dawn Cochrane Noce


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