Today's poem is by Susan Wood

from The Decalogue (III)

I've been lonely like that, that woman skidding
through icy, deserted streets, crashing
into small, lighted trees that litter the vacant lots.

She's always behind glass looking out or outside
looking in where it's Christmas Eve
and a lamp-lit family lifts flutes

of champagne. She always has one white pill
in her pocket she's keeping in reserve.
She's chosen this, of course, nursing despair

the way someone else might lean on a bar nursing
a single-malt Scotch, something peaty and strong.
She'll do anything to make you love her.

I've been like her. In various cities I walked
through leafy neighborhoods, dusk spreading
out its blue tablecloth, hanging its curtain of pale stars

in the sky, and peered in vinegar-cleaned windows
where families posed before fireplaces,
a tableau vivant, their arms draped casually on mantels.

Envy tugged at my sleeve, kept dragging me back
to look. Afterwards, I huddled in the corner
of my body as though that body were a locked

and empty room someone might break into
at any moment. I was alone there, so alone it was
like drowning, unloved, unloveable, and I could hear

birds crying in the bois d'arc tree outside, their sounds
reaching me as from a great distance, the phoebe's
pit-tee, pit-tee, the kestrel's killy, killy,

so that for years I thought such loneliness was air,
ubiquitous as weather, and not just another room
I drifted in and out of, from time to time, like anyone.

Copyright © 2003 Susan Wood All rights reserved
from Meridian
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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