Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Poetry: Robin Becker

Robin Becker
Sad Sestina
for Susanna Kaysen

Today's sadness is different from yesterday's:
more green in it, some light rain, premonition of departures
and the unpacking of books an dpapers. It's not a bad thing
to be sad
, my friend Susanna says. Go with it. I'm going by foot
into this sadness, the way we go as children into the awful
schoolday and the hours of cruelty and misunderstanding,

the way we go into family, into the savagery of standing
up for ourselves among siblings and parents, in yesterday's
living room, where secrecy turns ot habit and we learn the awful,
unthinkable fact: time twists our days into a series of departures.
When he was mad, my fahter used to say Someone's got to foot
the bills
, and I think of him now, this man who knew one thing

for sure: you had to pay your own way, since nothing
came for free in this life. A young dyke, grandstanding
before the relatives, I held my sadness close, one foot
already out the door. Who could believe in yesterday's
homilies while women cruised me, seventeen and hot for departure?
Today's sadness unfurls without drama, without the awful

punishments or reprisals of that house. In its place, the awful,
simple, mystery of human melancholy. Most days, I'd trade anything
to be rid of the blues, accustomed to flight and departure,
strategies that saved my life. Today I'm befriending it, standing
beside my sadness, like a pal down on her luck, who knows yesterday
isn't always a good predictor for tomorrow. A rabbit's foot

won't help; when the time comes, it's a question of putting my foot
in the stirrup and riding the sad horse of my body to the awful
little stable at the edge of town. And there to wait while yesterday
has its way with time. Susanna said, To be sad is not a bad thing,
and I believe her, as I pull the heavy saddle from th estanding
horse and hang the bridle away. Sadness readies for my departure,

and I for hers. In a most unlikely departure
from the ordinary, even the tough butch on a bike will be a tenderfoot
when it comes to goodbyes. We carry on, notwithstanding
all the good times gone and December's awful
cheerfulness. Susanna, if I ever discern something
useful about sadness, I'll wish I'd known it yesterday.

I've put distracting things aside and discovered, underfoot,
no wisdom absent yesterday. Still, a saint would find this awful:
a standing date with change, a season of departures.

1 Comments:

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous tyromaven said...

Hey, I realized this morning that I hadn't read your page in a while, so here I am.

Synchronicity. I saw Girl, Interrupted last weekend for the first time. I need something like that to exist, but I need it to dig its fingers deeper and not dismiss so much in a cathartic realization. I want the decision to be in the crazy world to have more weight, more rage, and more love.

Well, Toni Morrison said I'd have to write the things I wanted most to read. Check me out below at older posts for responses.

 

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