Thursday, October 02, 2008

diastole and systole

It was fall and we were lying on a blanket in Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester County.

Joseph had recently discovered that K and I were having an affair. 

When Joseph said he was moving out, that our marriage was over, he was so calm. 

I can't remember why I went to New York.

I think I felt so unhinged that I decided to visit my friend Therese who was living in Chinatown and feeling a bit lost herself.

K happened to be in New York at the same time visiting his mother.

I went out to her house in the suburbs to see him for a night.

There might not be anywhere more beautiful than the Hudson River Valley in the fall, but enjoying myself was a bit out of reach. 

My life, as it had been, was falling apart. 

Whether or not that was a good thing remained to be seen and I was afraid. 

Stretched out on a blanket in the crisp air with colorful leaves falling all around us, K read a poem to me.

To Have Without Holding
Marge Piercy

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind 
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously, 
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can't do it, you say it's killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor's button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

I remember smiling at the idea of "love with the doors banging on their hinges."

I pictured a whole house full of doors and shutters banging madly away.

As crazy about him as I was, K's doors and shutters seemed open, but only just.

They were definitely NOT banging on any hinges.

It would be years before he trusted me enough to love differently.


Mel said...

God, I wish you'd write this book. You would write the HELL out of this story.
The little hooks that leap out of your calm, measured and intelligent phrases are breathtaking. I wish I could say this shit without it sounding like gibberish, but I can't. But believe me when I say YOU SHOULD WRITE THIS BOOK.

Vodka Mom said...

that was magnificent, powerful, and lovely. :-)

zellmer said...

I've lived a similar situation. I've felt that fear of divorce, that risk of someone new and the guilt to the overlap. But I've never written about it as beautifully as you do. This poem is so poignant. Thank you for sharing.

WILLIAM said...

LOVE, doors banging on hinges... like alove shack.

Tin Roof Rusted.

Little Monkies said...

I am with Mel.

Seriously, mama. Take the time, write the story. It doesn't even have to be the exact story, just a "loosely based on" story.

Dogwood Girl said...

Another great post.

carrie said...

There are no words. Well, perhaps there are Mel's words - those will do!


Laski Gal said...

Shivers moving their way up my spine . . .

Wow. I had to read this twice just to be sure that what I was reading was really there.

Magpie said...

I feel rather as though I've been punched in the stomach - in a good way - that was breathtaking and powerful.

Ree said...

I absolutely know this feeling. "Whether or not that was a good thing remained to be seen and I was afraid. "

I don't know if you read my story about my affair with my husband, and our respective divorces/marriages, but this is EXACTLY how I felt.

Charlotte said...

Wow, neat poem. And yeah, been there, done that ... except for the fact that I was the one leaving, not my then-husband.

Patois said...

That poem is pure brilliance. "Love with the doors banging on their hinges" is one of the best descriptions I've seen. How blessed that you found someone with whom to have that love.

Joy Leftow said...

That's life, huh? Your life is falling apart and he reads you a poem. The irony is that moment stands out for you.
Pity he didn't write the poem too.

Hey, good blog.

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

I love that image too. Wonderful poem.

Hum. I should have married a guy with a more poetic bent I think.

Day Dreamer said...

...hunger and anger moment by moment balanced...

That whole last part gets me. I backed into this relationship I'm in right now. I had no idea how it would end, but I knew I needed that journey.

This is beautiful.