Thinking a lot about my play in progress, and trying to get into my nineteen-year-old brain; the kernel of the story is inspired by that year. (I had dropped out of NYU, was working at a large used bookstore in New York, and was beginning to seriously explore Judaism for the first time.) Luckily, I’ve been journaling for years, so traveling back to that time is not hard to do….
I worked overtime at the bookstore today, working on a huge special order that has mobilized the entire staff. These days my muscles always ache. When I crouch, I feel my calves tighten. Today the thought of never returning to school crossed my mind for the first time.
(My face hardened as well today. One of my coworkers noticed my scowl and called me over. What’s up, he asked. I’m tired, I said. I have to tell you something, he said, and a little smile slipped into the corners of my mouth. He started singing, what I heard him singing before: I’ll stand by you, I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you, I’ll stand by you….)
I walked to Kmart to buy another set of purple sheets. The tears were already threatening to fall. Please god, please, I implored. Please, show me something, show me it will be alright. I wandered the aisles, so sterile and white compared to the bookstore. I found no purple sheets. I felt ridiculous as it upset me. My face hardened and hardened. I thought, oh my god, I am going to break down in Kmart. I finally found a set, and felt satisfied and vindicated until I thought: purple sheets are not a sign from God.
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Posted in Poetry, tagged angst, ghost, love, poem on September 10, 2012 |
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Thinking a lot about old ghosts lately—in my mind, in my past, and in my family. This is a poem I wrote years ago to one of them: the boy I thought was my one that got away.
Though love implores me to try still more
I will not sit on your doorstep and scream
while taxis that can kill or carry hurtle by—
one more death averted, one less heart made a ghost,
as long as I stay on my side and you stay on yours.
But, oh, will you love me when you have the time
to think of me—if only for that moment?
A foothold in a fraction of your heart is good enough
for me—though a fraction is no forever,
and a thought is a ghost and is no guarantee
of truth or affection or sympathy.
So gather your ghosts and I’ll gather my tears,
throw yours to the west and I’ll throw mine to the east.
Maybe we’ll meet in the middle of the city one day,
we’ll gather our hearts and we’ll never part ways—
though that’s just a dream, and a dream is a ghost,
and a ghost cannot hold me or love me or care.
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