I thought about it a long time because I ran out of staples so I tiptoed down to his office. I didn’t know what else to do. Next it was the typing paper neatly stacked beside the desk. Thank God he thought ahead with batteries in the drawer for my mouse and keyboard. I used to play office once when I was very young. I’d walk around the street and write down all the numbers that I saw on tiny squares of paper, put in shoe boxes stacked inside the closet wall. But this cannot go on. How long. Today my swimming goggles broke. I know he has two pairs brand new inside his swimming bag. I cannot bear to open it. They are my style, bought the same day as my own. His swim bag zipper is closed all the way. I’ll wear the old ones another day. It’s the same as these seasons that come and go, I steal what I can from him. Shoplifting from the life I loved is no way to live. What will I do when the azaleas stop blooming? I stole his bottle of orange flavored gin. What will I do when we run out of supplies.
Every day I go to the Naval Academy pool where Ken and I swam together
And I plunge under the water and pretend Ken’s in the lane next to me
And I know he moves two laps for every one of mine
And I pretend we’re in the Key West pool and he’s in the next lane
Where it is shining ribbons off the bottom
And I’ll get out first and go along the white stone path
Through the hibiscus past palms by the water
Into the shower room where I always slip on the floor
Then I’ll be waiting for him outside at the picnic table watching the scuba divers
And he’ll come out and we’ll wonder where to eat lunch maybe go into town
For conch soup but I have writing to do and he needs to rest after such a workout
But whatever happens we need to be up at 6:12 because tonight
That’s sunset time and everyone claps on the pier and we’re never late
With a martini for him and a tequila for me in plastic cups
Then a sound breaks my trance and I realize that it’s coming from my own throat
Like the clacking the cat makes when watching the birds outside
It’s caught like a squeal under water a squeezed sob and I climb out
And I rush past midshipmen who’re laughing and telling their jokes and complaints
And I take a fast shower with the sound still coming from the back of my throat
Hoping no one has heard me as I dress and move out fast already planning when I can
© Grace Cavalieri
Grace Cavalieri has 16 books published, the latest being Gotta Go Now (Casa Menendez Press). She founded “The Poet and the Poem” radio series 37 years ago, now recorded at the Library of Congress for public radio. Ms. Cavalieri also writes for theater and has seen 26 plays produced, her newest work being ANNA NICOLE: BLONDE GLORY, inspired by her book of poems on Anna Nicole Smith. She’s the monthly poetry columnist and reviewer for The Washington Independent Review of Books. She has four grown daughters and was married to the metal sculptor Kenneth Flynn for nearly 60 years. She holds several poetry awards including The Allen Ginsberg Award (1993 and 2013), The Paterson Prize, and Association of Writers & Writing Program’s 2013 George Garrett Award for Service to Literature.
clarinda harriss said:
Made me cry, Grace. So beautiful and poignant and rich in sensory experience. Thanks for taking me to this private and wonderful and sorrowful place.
David Eberhardt said:
Because I am in this vol i am reading everything- i believe in the utmost honesty when it comes to poetry- if some one says exactly what they think abt my stuff- i wish they wld…even if i say something negative, u moved me to do so.
Laura M Kaminski said:
“Fixation” is an absolute masterpiece. Beautiful!
I don’t believe poetry is read in venues like this- disagree?
margo christie said:
Lament or life well lived. Of course I see it’s both, always both.