Regrets Only, Not Much
1. "O Holy Night"
I would give anything to understand why
Into the dumpster, and why, before you did it,
Over the RSVP, what it really meant and the cost of it all.
It was beginning to freeze outside then, too. Not much,
And I would give anything to know why
The more I feel myself sliding toward you,
Really, what cracks is the city, wind squeezing
Pressing down streets, shoppers bundled and huddled
Of Christmas carols as they float from shop to shop:
Let nothing you dismay . . . oh what fun . . . fall on your knees . . . .
And your voice . . .
It's all the same, and I don't
know where I go,
Wherever it is, it's not far, but it
If I could hear your voice in a new way
And watch my breath swim through bitter air
Would that make it better somehow?
Would I begin to forget, for example, how I
Into it for years with a cup of warm milk and a little tune
Your grandmother hummed?
There's more to pain than memory.
Besides, ours was another life, the one not set in type,
Would have happened between us.
I'm barely thirty, and to talk about this is hard,
Not because of the pain,
And torn and fleeting, I feel the old love stirring:
Pleasure is hardly crueler than the memory of it.
So, Reader, stand here with me on this cold corner,
Wrap your scarves around your chin, and look at this woman.
She keeps waving cars down, yelling.
And look at the man with the long beard and camouflage coat,
Wrapped in a black smock and silver spiked muzzle,
Is it fear?
Into angry water, as her curses become the sharp, invisible crystal
Would resemble oversized snowflakes,
It's gorgeous how that happens, don't you think?
The Doberman's breath as she curls around her master's
The man's calming shushes into her clipped ears,
The laughter of those on the street at the woman,
The woman's cursing at what she sees,
Their parade of white breath rising with the
carolers' . . .
Jesus Christ with ice . . . . Hello, goodbye,
and the stars
I would give anything to understand why this happens, the marriage
Ordained, then abandoned, by wind.
If there were a way I could hold it together,
I'd be writing something different,
Sketched in crystal, one
I could hold you in, remember you enough by.
Much to their dismay, certain S. S. guards found the female Doberman
More receptive to what we call terror,
Their ferocity more easily triggered by waving
In front of their muzzled, spiked snouts.
Then, they'd be let loose to tear you
Less and less of.
They would tear, and not let go.
And later Warsaw, Paris, Prague—
Your screams, if your screams rang that far,
Of, say, Wagner glaring toward Russia from the Charles Bridge,
Beginning to freeze along its edges, where, more than once,
As you told me this, you began to laugh
In your concealment, I began to understand.
There are things we choose not to say, and there are things
You assured me, were not yours. They were your grandmother's.
And still are.
But the more I pay attention to what I remember, the more I slide
"How did we end up at Kristallnacht,
I still wish I knew what to say. You were hushing
And as I think softly, I'm really speaking
With ice. I can see you now behind that fogged window
Marinating chicken in a plastic container. Why?
You stand at the counter, turning over and over
The lawyers haven't called, haven't written, won't listen,
And it's not much. You mutter it softly,
not much, not
Anymore, even though you're speaking
And Camel Lights, which float into their own rhythm, burning—
Not much, not much, not much
Echoing down halls we painted blue.
No one's coming home, not much not much
I know it's too much. I know. I know
That it takes on a life of its own in a world that unravels
Right next to ours, this world we know
Is the freezing water of regret kissing sound.
Which means, I'm thinking, there is no