“Drive all blames into one.”
“Don’t be so predictable.”
—Tibetan Buddhist lojong precepts
Now I am way lost—
bushwhacking through my husband’s unconscious
unskillfully. My anger feels like a machete
would be a fine tool: my hatred applauds the choice
with what little is left of its tiny,
as love begins to re-place everything.
Now here I am, being unpredictable, as usual.
Is this how it’s supposed to be?
me flailing against the unknowns
that bind my soul,
against his vegetal restraints,
against the overgrowth of understory,
of love untended for years, all its
I swing at my peril.
Putting down the machete,
I grab fistfuls of these teaching vines
it’s hard to keep my eyes open,
hard to keep them closed.
Now here I am finally tending
the garden of my mother’s neglect.
I wade, breathing, through the wild, smothering leaves
of unfamiliar weeds up to my neck:
her dark green depression,
her bilious loss,
her many, many unspoken losses.
I recognize here my husband’s neglect,
my own neglect.
I graft these blames into one.
It seems she had planned a covert suicide,
to lose all the losses at once,
as if no one would know—
as if, already buried, no one would notice her dying.
And here now looms finally
the most impossible loss: the divorce she never
felt entitled to, about to be
preempted by my father’s death after all.
Divorce back when she was my age
was a forgotten canoe
overturned by the neighbor’s shed—
secretly coveted but never asked for,
as she was restrained by a taboo
greater than the one against suicide,
greater than all these wilding weeds;
greater than abuse,
greater than love.
I thrash my way
to the shed
to find the canoe
with one unbroken paddle.
My husband sees behind it
a piece of wood,
I turn and face the open water.