Marty McConnell

treatise on the nature of non-abandonment

Anything can happen next. Tea, or gunshots, or the streetlights coming on outside this room, and the other, where you are, with your body so like my body but with its own particulars, the breasts I have called perfect and the waist I tug toward me all day, listening for the one note we produce when the city night slants across us because someone forgot to pull the curtain entirely shut. I admit

I imagined you. Despite this, your knees are real, and your face that I say I love because I do, and the sound of you turning the pages of some large magazine full of art displayed in rooms in countries you visited before I knew you, before I even imagined you. Now

the question is: How do we go on? And even more difficultly: What do you want? I’ve kissed women in cities to which I want never to return, but I would go there with you. I take too long to unpack my suitcase every time I come home, until I need those socks again, until you can’t stand

the sight of it, orange, leaning against the wall, full of patient fabric and a foldable toothbrush. What do you want? How do you want me to give it to you? The internet is full of stories today about boys playing Knockout, where they in passing

a complete stranger on the sidewalk, suddenly lash out with a blow to the back or front of the head. To enact upon the world such a specific report of the violence with which it regularly seeks to kill you seems to me the opposite of senseless. Maybe it is time to eat the dictionary. All the newspapers

moldering, unread. What do we mean when we talk about perfection? If I’d been better at life would we never have met? Here is the inventory. Here is the old lexicon, here all the things you left behind: Sorrow. Nevermind. Cardinal sleeping in throat chakra. Meditation cushion. One espresso maker, barely used. All the pots

and pans. We can go get them. We can bring them here and eat in our pajamas and kiss in the kitchen and someday you will tell me the name you called yourself when you decided to leave that place. You will tell me what the moon said, and the mirror the night you decided to come home. Let’s think about escalators now, and their cousins the moving walkways in airports. Something

about the woman’s voice that says Caution. The moving walkway is ending makes me sad, and a little hysterical, and I love it. Anything can happen next. It’s been a long century so far, full of clocks and obituaries and the law. The sight of your leather jacket emptied over the back of the rocking chair, how hot this tea is, the books in their authorial order – comforts. If Camus was right, if speaking

always involves a treason, every promise I can make you is less than this touch. Still, I think our speaking redoes the world. So bring me your philosophies, the car radio, an extra set of house keys and the toy arrow deconstructed on your studio floor. Let’s not leave this world in ruins.

Thing is,

you can be a good father and a terrible person. You can be a terrible person and a terrible father. You can be a good person to some people and a terrible person to other people. You can be a person who does terrible things. You can be a person who does good things. You can be a terrible artist and a good person. You can be a great artist and a terrible person. You can be a terrible artist and a terrible person. It’s hard to photograph the moon through a window. You can be a terrible person and have great sex. You can have great sex and be a good person. You can be a terrible person and have terrible sex. It’s hard to photograph the moon through a window even when it’s brighter than the Christmas lights. You can be a terrible person and have people love you. You can have people love you and be a good person. You can do terrible things to some people and good things to other people. You can be a person who’s done terrible things. You can be a person who’s done terrible things and buried them under the evergreens. You can be a person who’s done terrible things and unburied them, lifting them up to the light. It’s hard to photograph the moon through a window even when it’s brighter than the Christmas lights strung on the tree whose branches partly occlude it. You can make terrible decisions and be a good person. You can be a good person and make terrible decisions. You can offer good wine and save the misery for later. You can offer terrible wine to beloveds and save the good stuff for strangers. It’s hard to photograph the moon through a window even when it’s brighter than the Christmas lights strung on the tree whose branches partly occlude it across the street from the house you grew up in. You can be a person who does terrible things to good people. You can be a person who does terrible things to terrible people. You can be a mule to memory or dig up that tree and burn it. You can be a person who draws the moon with your own face as its face. You can be a person who draws the moon as it wants to be drawn, in the likeness of a thirteen-year-old who hasn’t lost anyone. You can be a person. You can be a person. You can be a person who burned it all down in the sight of the moon and be a good father and this will not save you either.

Marty McConnell lives in Chicago, Illinois, where she coaches individuals and groups toward building thriving, sustainable lives and organizations. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, her work has recently appeared in "Best American Poetry 2014," "Southern Humanities Review," "Gulf Coast," and "Indiana Review." Her first full-length collection, “wine for a shotgun,” was published by EM Press.

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