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Leslie McGrath: Litany

Each day’s a train bound for Calgary, St. Paul, Santa Fe,

its flickering windows a foreign film.

The doors will never open. But the tracks will beckon.

You’ll lay your body across them, feeling for the hum,

the electric indelible, that connects all beings,

you’ve heard. No train will come, so you’ll let it go.

You’ll get chilly, get up, drive home and call a friend.

She’ll take you to the hospital. In you’ll go

through doors that lock audibly at your back.

They’ll want your sharps (nail file, shoelaces.) You’ll let them go.

They’ll give you a diagnosis. Another. Another.

They’ll prescribe Prozac, which will work, then stop.

You’ll go through four more medications to find a transitory peace.

Another patient, your confidant, will turn quiet.

You’ll find her hanging from the shower bar. You’ll watch her go

out on a gurney, the same way she arrived, in a bag this time.

You’ll get with the program: music therapy, art therapy, family therapy.

You’ll gain weight, insight. You’ll get a discharge date

then begin to wonder what you’ve missed—the new television season,

elections, fall fashions, the body count. They’ve let you go

from your job.  They’ve filled your spot in the choir.

Most of your friends, too, will be gone

but this will be done in a way you discover incrementally

through a series of unmet glances,

unreturned calls and other small dishonors.

Your husband will remove his ring. I didn’t sign up for this.

You’ll hire an attorney. He’ll hire an attorney.

You’ll lose custody of your children

and God help you, you’ll let them go

to the fitter parent, the more competent one,

the parent who did not go through this.

You’ll make a fresh start, buy a house

in another town and you’ll drink your evening wine

but you’ll let that lonely pleasure go too far.

This too, you will let go.

You’ll find a lover. He’ll bring his hammer and his temper.

After you argue he’ll make a bonfire of your furniture.

Standing barefoot at your own door

you’ll watch it all go–spark to ash.

You’ll go back to bed for a day, a week

then a cold season of days will flicker past the panes,

past you, alone on that familiar platform

now overgrown with vines. You will take hold

of one and pull it up. You’ll pull another, another.

Soon you’ll stand between the mass of weeds

and a cleared place. This is where you’ll plant

mint and nasturtium and watch them grow

thickly fragrant over the borders. You’ll make

a friend, paint your bedroom, go to church,

late one afternoon on the porch

you’ll feel an easing of resentments

toward those who have not suffered,

toward those to whom suffering is invisible

as you let go and let go and let go.

Copyright 2017 Leslie McGrath. First published in Salamander. Republished by permission of the author.

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This entry was posted on October 13, 2017 by in Health and Nutrition, Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , , .

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