Zara’s Ink Blot Thursday: The Widow’s Poem. 04.19.2012

Thursday: Zara’s Ink Blot

The Widow’s Poem

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

 ***

I wept because I pictured you dying. Correction—

I wept because I pictured your funeral

and I wasn’t there.

***

I refused to play the widow

to wear black and look solemn.

***

Yes, those who

never agreed to me or with me

in the first place

those who are

now curious at what I will do

how deep my sorrow should be to their liking

how I will finally measure up

***

but I did not go to your funeral, My Love.

***

You died years before they buried you

before they bought white flowers

and chanted prayers in their tongues.

***

Today they will give their practiced speeches

and each will profess how they loved you

the most:

***

the sisters in black veils with tissue

in their hands

dabbing their eyes

for grief, too, must have its show

***

—that one with the sour expression

whose mouth always remains a straight line

***

(your death is like a slap in her face finally!)

***

(though she blames me

she cannot say so out loud

for she loves her righteousness

as much as she loves

her hypocrisy)

***

—and the brothers who pretend for today

if only for today

that, yes, you were the favourite son

though you did wrong

***

by not following their path to the end

(leading the choir with your guitar

teaching the children to remember the stories

—Noah, the Flood, obedience—

that sort

and preaching in the pulpit

without tempting the wives or the single

Christian women in the pews.

***

Oh, but how they loved you!

In your tie, your suit, your brand new shoes.

They loved you

though you denied it

many times.)

***

Your parents aren’t here to witness the burial

to raise their hands in supplication

to reaffirm that God knows best.

***

They evangelized the world

even our marriage

though they knew not what it was

to hate and love

and hate

with passion—even to curse

***

(we cursed as much as we ate—

out loud or in contemptuous silence.)

***

Your mother so domesticated

in her small kitchen

happy with her cooking

her service

her doting

her love

***

she made pupusas like they were

offerings

while your father

sat king-like

with the Book in his hand.

***

He was smart enough

to speak enough English

(if only a little)

smart enough to tell you

he loved you

strict and rigid

conservative   bull-headed

but he was kind, too—

he could hug.

***

But your ex-lovers

how they sneak in

like bad dreams

the nightmare where they have

no faces

no names

(lurking behind husbands and children)

***

they, too, are here.

***

Their profession of love for you

is raw and stagnant

wistful at the coffin

secretive

of the One-that-Got-Away.

***

…Perhaps

you are glad to see them

to see them finally weep over the loss

a secret triumph to know at last

that you were loved

as you thought

as you wished for…

***

(the cowboy boots

the secret pink thongs

the flamboyant cousin with big hair…)

***

it is your last secret

the one that lingers

after you have gone

it resides there

in their faces

—bewilderment—

you can no longer

deny them

answer them back

walk away or slam down

the phone

***

…Perhaps

you did not love me

but married me instead

***

for love is for the lovers

and those you claimed

you never had

***

they are there

skimming the photographs

looking for their faces

resolving to reconcile

old lusts and regret

***

(there are no pink thongs

no cowboy boots

no young girl in a bright, yellow dress—

I made you rip those photographs

and burn them in our backyard)

***

for I know I am only half-wife

the rest of you always somewhere

belonging to scars of

secret lips and lingering perfume

and dark Spanish dialect

***

these women with their made-up, blotchy eyes

their curly, spoofed-up greasy hair

and loud jewellery

these yapping, Salsa-dancing, secret coven

of women

who had their mark on you

who had you between their long, red

fingernails

***

with names like

Carla-Juana-Susy-Alicia

***

And the sisters with their special mugs and secret spices

their photographic memories

of you

the sweat of your brow after soccer

the names of every girl

you ever dated or loved

***

how clever and dumb

and boring they were

your sisters

to keep me out

***

and the brothers with their fists of bravado

and sermons

regretting they never called more

nor visited your firstborn son

***

they failed to take you out fishing

or listen to you play your guitar

they never arm wrestled you

or bought you a ticket to a baseball

game

(they prayed for you instead)

but they never called

***

and the nephews and nieces

who coddled you

clinging to your knees

begging for attention

wanting presents and advice and

sometimes your money or your car

***

they are grown men and women now

strangers in good clothing.

***

They all assert themselves in their

memories

implying

they loved you best

like the beat of the chest

of a band of baboons

***

they will show the visitors

when the visitors come.

***

And the pastor continues singing

his praises and tells us

to be brave

to be strong

that this, too,

shall pass

(relieved that for this,

there is a God)

***

the musicians

are making tribute

playing old songs

boleros

hymns

and more boleros

***

and the children are running

in the hallway

chasing ribbons on skirts

pulling tight at their neckties

fleeing the grandmothers

who fix and pat their hair

***

the hosts and the caterers

are polite and kind—and very polite

concentrating on the power

of bereavement

making it light

serving coffee and tea

with biscuits

on white napkins

(they, too, are relieved

it is not them or their family)

***

the carpet has been vacuumed

the lights are dim and yellow

and people are containing their whispers

nodding their heads

signing the guest book

touching your photographs

***

work mates are here, too,

the ones you never liked

the ones who never knew you

they shake hands with each other

eyeing the buffet table for chicken or turkey

or soup

a group of them

targeting the bread

***

the hush is ridiculously thick

thinking they might wake you

if they speak too harshly too happy

too loud

***

there is regret

not in your dying

but in their relief—

it is not them inside that coffin

it is not them who must face

the wife

***

they may even ask,

“Where is she? His wife?”

***

In their minds they have been asking

***

looking for me in the crowd

following the hearse

certain I am in the front row

of the first pew

—certain of so many things

***

they listen for loud weeping

marks of mascara that continue to run

black stockings and heels

and the matching purse

—a fainted body

a drama

a hand

***

but no.

***

I will not play widow today.

Not commend you to strangers

or tell them our secret jokes

or give myself over to their pity and fussing

let them pass me tissue and cold coffee

or tell my children they look exactly like you

(how brave they are

that there is such a place

as a thing called Heaven)

***

no.

***

I will not be at your gravesite

to watch your box lower

into the ground

to drop a flower or a handful of dirt

to say goodbye only to be put

into a car

***

I will not weep and faint

sign papers

look over a will

***

I am instead.

***

Home in the quiet

competing with your absence

looking for you

afraid of the curtains

a door left open

of noises not my own.

***

I will look at photos

dwell a little

replay the answering machine

of your voice

Sorry, we’re not here right now

to take your call…

Beep!

Sorry, we’re not here right now

to take your call…

Beep!

***

collect all your letters

and put things in boxes

the junk I couldn’t stand

or didn’t buy and didn’t want

***

smell your cologne—

Azzaro was your favourite

you wore it on weekends

ever since I told you

it made you smell like

my man.

***

I am instead.

***

In the closet

hiding from your shadow

your kisses

the voice that always said,

“Come back to me, Baby…”

***

Instead it is me:

“Come back to me, Baby…”

breathing loudly—

breathing loudly

among your clothes.

***

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3 thoughts on “Zara’s Ink Blot Thursday: The Widow’s Poem. 04.19.2012”

  1. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading
    it, you will be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and definitely will come back later on. I want to encourage one to continue your great writing, have a nice afternoon!

    1. Thanks so much for visiting. I’m so glad you enjoyed a reading of my work. That poem was written quite a while ago. Thanks so much for bookmarking my page. Looking forward for your return!

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