Category Archives: Writing

Finally, She Could Not Love Him

He showed me a picture
he took of her
one long-ago July
as she crouched down
to marvel at the frogs,
small and green
and undisturbed
by the curiosity
that filled the afternoon
like sunshine.
It was the day they met,
he said—
and he didn’t know
there would be other days
they would meet
in the future—
days that were separated
by months, seasons.
He said she told him
things she didn’t have
anyone else to tell—
things that made him
question
the happy-enough life
he went home to—
things that made him
want to leave it behind.
And he wondered
if this woman
could ever love him
the way she loved
the man in her poems—
the poems he imagined
himself into—
and I asked him why
he’d never told me this
and he explained
it wasn’t until now
that he could say for sure
without breaking down
that the answer
to his unasked question
was no.

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-13-19

“Morning by the Stream” by T.C. Steele, 1893

Sting

Today the weather
is a grumpy neighbor
I’m trying to avoid
so I don’t get the mail
or disturb the wasps
trying to use the mailbox
as a place to make plans.
So far they are only annoyed
by the twice daily disruption—
first the delivery
then the gathering—
and not once have they
attacked or even moved.
They just appear there
each time I open the door—
never more than a handful
and never in the same spot
so I know they’re alive
inside their plump red bodies
that are like drops of blood
with long black wings—
something almost hideous
about the way they look
in the dark shadow of the box
because I know
what they could do
if their peaceful protest
turned into a riot—
and every day I expect them
to grow in numbers
which is why I have ready
a can full of killer
every time I reach in
to extract the stack of bills
that never includes
a handwritten letter
from a lost love
telling me something
that would cause my eyes
to water and sting.

 

 

DeMaris
4-29-19

An Understanding

We rode down together
in the elevator,
the housekeeper and I,
from the 22nd floor.
We are careful
not to catch each others eye
as she pulls her braids into a ponytail
and I pretend to look
for something in my purse,
and I find it as the elevator stops
at the 11th floor
and at the 4th
I almost tell her why I’m here
and why I’m not supposed to be.
I want to tell her I understand
the way she feels about
changing sheets for people
who are on paid vacations
or who are here on company business
that covers room service
and valet parking.
But I don’t tell her how wonderful it was
to sleep on those sheets
with a man
who asked me to come
who asked me to exit
into the hall only after it was clear
no one could see.

DeMaris

4-25-19

“Morning Sun” by Edward Hopper, 1952

Choice

Oh miserable universe—

proof that beauty
is not created by a god—

a god
who could will into everyone
a joy
unspeakable, unalterable
if that is how he chose
to wield his power—

instead
it is the blistering ordinary
of any given day
that crushes us
beneath its promise to be all
we can ever really hope for—

meanwhile
unions will begin—
ordained by the same god
who will orchestrate
their ending
in some far-off
inconceivable future—

and only a few of us
will be baffled
by the blind surrender—

by the way choice
is something most people
don’t believe they have.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
3-27-19

“Getting Up” by Berthe Morisot, 1885

 

Letting it Burn

Hours have passed—
just you and the fire
that needs you
to keep adding
feeding
rewarding
and you oblige
first with small limbs
that have fallen in the winds
and then with the old lumber
leftover from your dream
that came true
and you were so careful
to rake away the dry leaves
leaving a center
a circle
that could contain a small sun
in your control
and you know there’s no limit
to what you could burn
eliminate
purge
but the thing you need
to turn to ash
is that fantasy of perfection
the one where you go home
one day
to find the man you’ve loved
for a very long time
waiting for you
as you walk
through the door.

 

 

DeMaris
3-11-19

How Does it Look?

With tons of help from my family, I built a lovely home in the woods. It’s my dream come true and I’m so fortunate in so many ways. My family is healthy, I have a job, I have food, and I can pay my bills. But I can barely pay my bills. Barely.

I was in Goodwill yesterday and again today. I made a small purchase each visit. If you’ve ever been to Goodwill, you know that they ask if you’d like to round your purchase up to the nearest dollar and your change will go toward education.

In theory, I think this is a great idea. It allows people to do something small that adds up to something big. Even if you’ve never been to Goodwill, I’m sure you’ve been to the grocery store or any number of other retail establishments that ask if you’d like to donate a dollar to a children’s hospital or the Children’s Miracle Network, or the Humane Society, ad infinitum.

While it’s a great thing that these places can raise money almost effortlessly, there is often pressure to donate, which I really really don’t like. Especially when there are people behind you. It’s like advertising you’re a heartless wretch if you say no.

Yesterday I said yes and donated almost 60 cents. I will choose products at the grocery store based on a 10 cent price difference. I bet you do too.

Today I said no. I kept my 20 cents. 20 cents is kind of a big deal. It’s a big difference when you’re talking about the price of a gallon of gas, or a gallon of milk. 20 cents is how much it costs me to list an item for sale on Etsy for 4 months. I pick up pennies on the sidewalk or the street or the parking lot. They go into a jar that accumulates, and when I cash it in it’s always about $100. The small stuff adds up.

There was no one behind me in line today, which is why I said no. It was only the cashier who I had to look in the eye with shame. And I felt shamed over 20 cents. Twenty effing cents. The whole drive home I felt terrible inside. I felt judged. I felt like I should have explained why I didn’t round up. I am trying to justify why I didn’t just donate the 20 effing cents.

I was so shaken by the experience that it makes me not want to shop in Goodwill again. But I’ve had that feeling before, and I always go back. Because, well, I can find good deals on things I need.

I know what poor looks like. I also know what poor doesn’t look like. Sometimes poor wears a disguise. Sometimes it looks miserly and stingy.

Dropping the two dimes into my change jar sounds like I got away with something selfish. But mostly, it sounds like music.

So what about you? How do you feel about being asked to donate? Are you happy to, or does it ever make you feel uncomfortable? If you decline, do you give a reason?

Lesson

We are taught
it isn’t right to feel good
or satisfied
or clean
about parting.
About leaving the future
out of sex—
but I have enjoyed
the present of the now
the gift of nothing else
to look forward to—
just one night
spent without fear or hopes.
Just a few hours
where the only thing that lived
or breathed
or mattered
was his body
swollen like a wet sponge
over the blackboard of my life—
erasing everyone else
who made promises
impermanent as chalk
to make me believe
they’d still be here
now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
1-12-19

“Summer Evening” by Edward Hopper, 1947