Today's poem is by Gray Jacobik

The Ex

In the placable air of long dissolved discord, we wait
with our daughter, days overdue, our single shared
goodness. She carries our first grandchild.

In thirty years, not a word has tiptoed across
the continent between us. We've led vastly different
lives. He's not unkind, only holds a dizzying number

of opinions. Like bombarding mosquitoes they fly in
and out of range. Across my face I draw a tight mask
of passive acquiescence. The skeleton underneath

threatens to grin, but he's the one who's dying—
of AIDS and its complications—the effeminate,
virginal boy I married when I was twenty-two.

Can anything be said to those we betrayed and
abandoned? Neither of us knew ourselves; each
feared we'd be desroyed by the other's needs.

That fear seems exorbitant from here, and pointless,
yet I remember staggering about for weeks feeling
as though a beast were daily ripping the sternum

out of my chest. We shred our nerves against the grate
of one another's youthful insecurities. Weak, slight,
vulnerable, only his voice is unchanged—

I must have loved its sound once! Maybe, strangely,
in the unreckonable realm of human life—our daughter's
and her child's—whoever we marry is ours forever.

And in some sense he is mine, and I almost want him,
but only out of pity, or forgotten guilt. All the dross
that had to go was long since skimmed off. Here

we are, his once-wife, my once-husband, the child
we made who is with child, this summer evening's
sterling light and the mystery of how each moment

goes on and on and holds us present until the last.

Copyright © 2004 Gray Jacobik All rights reserved
from Tar River Poetry
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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