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lips on the first syllable

February 12, 2012

we spend most of the day together surrounded by our boys. as much as possible (or as little as possible), we bat at strings that still dangle off the week’s arguments. some of it makes me feel better. some of it makes me feel worse. we set a firm boundary: no discussion of the marriage when it was one. nothing that happened before august — when marriage became separation — is to be brought into conversation.

we talk about other things that are undermining us and what’s to be done about it. we disagree, of course, fall into the roles we played for two decades. i say confront it: let’s air it out. he defers to it: let’s pretend it’s not there. i say, you allow it; it’s acceptable to you. he says, let it go. it doesn’t matter. and each of us hangs onto the rope. we talk about schedules, friends — (well, his, though they used to be ours) (it doesn’t matter. let it go.) — the boys, the games, the food. some of it makes me feel better. some of it makes me feel worse (i miss some of the friends). each of us hangs onto the rope.

i think, you still haven’t invited me in to *your* home. but then thursday at my place, i said, get out.

at the end of the rope: a noose it would be easy to hang ourselves on.

i push him in that direction. he pushes back.

we aim mostly at the image of the new thing: divorce.

and how we can be good at it.


there are lots of noises i’ve learned to tune out living in an apartment in the city: footsteps above me, pipes dripping, celebrations in the street, church bells. the only time sirens get through is if there are multiple rescuers/police all at once. but last night, noise from crows sent me out into my backyard to see what was going on. i didn’t capture them at their loudest in this video, but you get the idea.


it strikes me as both plausible and ridiculous: this notion of being good at divorce.

we have worked in shifts since the boys were babies. some of those transitions were just as fraught as these new ones, but trading off responsibility for the family was one of the things we did well. we’re not so good at it now. i flirt with the idea that we are a drop-the-kids-at-the-curb couple, a don’t-speak-except-about-the-schedule pair. i flirt with the idea that he’s a failure and a phoney and that i hate him. i flirt with it doesn’t matter. let it go. i flirt with the idea that those who undermine me will get hit by buses or mauled by bears.

but i’m unfaithful to those ideas.

what i mostly think about is wanting to relax, to settle into this post-marriage world with a beer in my hand and my feet on the coffee table. what i mostly think about is being a good mother and how i can’t fit into that nastiness between me and the father of my children. i choose respect and cooperation, and i expect it in return. it’s the getting there that’s the struggle. there are concessions and negotiations.

also what i think about is being a poet and artist and the shame of wasting energy convincing grizzlies to come out of hibernation and do my bidding. though vengeance (the settling of scores, the coming out on top) is such a temptress, she is not my only suitor. others await.


still, the poet is an undeniable flirt. she put the notes for this in her notebook last night and shaped it up this morning:


  1. Tess permalink
    February 12, 2012 12:47 pm

    The crows may have been ganging up on an owl – they mob owls when they find them. Sharks & Jets, with yelling and pecking instead of dancing and switchblades.

  2. February 12, 2012 12:47 pm

    An interesting crow followup:

    When we meditate on the crow and align with it, we are instilled with the wisdom to know ourselves beyond the limitations of one-dimensional thinking and laws. We are taught to appreciate the many dimensions of both reality and ourselves, and to learn to trust our intuition and personal integrity.

    Crow can also teach us to be mindful about judging people automatically. Be mindful of your opinions and actions. You need to walk your talk, to speak your truth and to know your life’s mission. Again, trust your intuition and personal integrity, to create your own standards, whether or not they match those of the world around you. Be an individual, think for yourself, don’t necessarily follow the crowd!

    Crow is an omen of change. Crows live in the void and have no sense of time, therefore being able to see past, present and future simultaneously. They unite both the light and the dark, both the inner and the outer. Crow is the totem of the Great Spirit and must be held with utmost respected. They are representations of creation and spiritual strength.

    Crows are messengers, telling us about the creation and magic all around us, that is available to us just for the asking. Look for opportunities to bring into being the magic of life.

    Just sayin’!!

  3. February 12, 2012 1:17 pm

    I agree with Tess –n that does look like mobbing behavior, as opposed to just roosting. Neat video in any case, and I like the poem.

  4. February 12, 2012 3:12 pm

    When you’re a friend of crows, you have friends everywhere, we say at my house. But this draws me in: they can be sinister, and they’re never kindly creatures. And I love the bit about closing down the mouth at the end of the word!

  5. February 12, 2012 3:51 pm

    Beautifully done. I understand these crow gatherings to be occasional family reunions. In my neighborhood they are limited to 25-30. A mob this may be. Or a family.

    Or both.

    Also telling. Eh?

    Wonderful poem you’ve got out of this.

    And what Dale said.

  6. February 13, 2012 11:34 am

    Crows always sound like home and childhood to me. You want to talk about things getting drowned out by city sounds… oy.

    Love that refrain as it diminishes into its own core.

  7. February 14, 2012 2:15 pm

    I also like the way the refrain echoes away, like cawing fading as crows fly past. We only have three crows in our neighborhood so they’re not much for mobbing and they sound kind of lonely to me. Anyway, really strong poem here. Well done.

  8. February 28, 2012 1:00 am

    Liked the poem very much…agree with the comments about the effective use of the refrain….I was interested also in the fact that I wrote a poem recently about crows roosting. Alas, (for me) I think your version is much better written


  1. Poetry + Prose, February 12 | Albany Poets

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