Today's poem is by Gabriel Spera

Studies for a Portrait

Consider her ability to sleep:
in cars on any errand lasting more
than two or three short miles; at home, slunk deep
in warm chenille, unable to endure

her dreary soaps; in bed, still lumped in sheets
until I've finished my commute and join
the workday world; past supper, when the heat
of wine weighs down upon her lids like coins;

midnight, when I strain saucer-eyed to hear
again that thingful sound that repossessed
my dreams, obsessed with what is always there,
the hands of men and clocks that know no rest.

Consider her ability to eat:
soft gobs of guacamole scooped on chips
too small to bear; Dutch chocolate bars, not sweet,
but dark and coffee-bitter; lavish strips

of torn slivered over rice; a mound
of ice cream when nostalgia weaves its pall
about the house; a dish of pasta found
leftover from a meal no one recalls;

Korean beef, warm juk; red-curried Thai squid;
the noodles that she slurped when I first met her;
the thing she didn't cook but watched as I did
explaining how to cook it even better.

Consider her ability to talk:
to halls filled with the skeptical nods of those
who would discredit her; about the stack
of papers on her desk that grows and grows and grows;

a blue streak to her sister in a time zone
ice removed; a filibuster to a stranger
stuck in line; in condescending tones
to certain ones who've managed to estrange her;

to nobody all day, penned up at home,
squinting at her screen till pixels double;
to me, although I'm in another room,
and strain for more than mrph and zazz and garbl.

Consider her ability to want:
an easy job that pays more than mine does;
the dish I've ordered in a restaurant
that makes her own look bland; a chest of clothes

to pack and unpack as the seasons turn;
home in a city where the temperature
stays constant all year round; the gift she spurned
just yesterday, but suddenly adores;

not to be busy, but to have a task;
not to be famous, but to be respected;
not to be married, but to have been asked;
not to have kids, but to have not objected.

Consider her ability to not
remember: whether or not she took her pill
this morning; where on earth could she have put
those figs; what happened to the water bill

she never paid; the punch line to the joke
she's badly telling; lyrics to a song
that's overplayed; the saucepan, belching smoke,
she set a flame to as the cordless rang;

the ending to a film she truly doubts
she's ever seen; the woman's name she met
last night; that silly thing we fought about;
that little thing we swore we'd both forget.

Consider her ability to hate:
the squirrel gnawing half an apricot
still ambering in our tree; the angry wait
at table for a colleague who forgot

their luncheon meeting; being the last or first
guests to arrive; small people with small minds;
a government that panders to the worst
and richest elements; the rush-hour grind

when every street downtown's a parking lot;
a call from Dad that spoils her perfect plan;
me, when I remind her that I'm not
divine, but trip through darkness, just a man.

Consider her ability to love:
herself, and how she looks in her black dress,
the slinky one; an argument that proves
my theory wrong; the backyard in distress

of hollyhock and dahlia run amok;
a list of things with all but three or two
crossed off; the fat lasagna that I make
on certain holidays; her mother, who

deserved a better life, a better lover
to live it with; me, though I least deserve,
and rise each day expecting to distherigbod
all bleak, all black, all gone, my universe.

Copyright © 2012 Gabriel Spera All rights reserved
from The Rigid Body
Ashland Poetry Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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