we used to know

26 Apr

We used to know without pause
which blouse, which skirt, which shoes,
which size was right –
what time work ended – how to connect
when one of us failed
to answer the phone.
If one of our kids
was melting down,
if it was too late,
we’d wait with each other
in public until it passed.
We used to know
each other’s allergies.
We used to understand
the village
wasn’t only for our kids.

We used to decorate ourselves
and our spaces, too,
with feathers and disco balls,
slippers and smoking jackets,
on fire with possibility,
forging bonds in that fire,
naturally
unbreakable bonds.

We cleaned each other’s houses.
We brought each other soup
and tissue and wine.
We watched each other’s kids on snow days,
holidays, sick days and in between.
But we never sealed the pact. There were gaps,
days we missed, moments we drifted off.
In the center of our lives
was this open-air home we’d built together
and I (because I can no longer speak for all of us
and probably never could) – I thought it would stand for

passion,
possibility,
perseverance,
strength,
creativity,
justice
all over the world
forever
and maybe,
just maybe
that was it.

Maybe that
was the cause
of its demise,
all those different signs
on one door.
I don’t know.
Maybe the mortar never set.
The walls didn’t match up.
Those signs
were too heavy.
It was never a home.
Too big,
too small, too restrictive.
It had too many rooms.
I don’t think
any one of us
can point to why in that singular moment,
the sledgehammer dislodged possibility
and we all came crashing into the here, the now.
I still don’t know
what caused the rubble –
I didn’t see –
a series of moments maybe,
a shift in our foundation.

A cluster of infinitesimal seismic shifts.
Dynamite. A lack of faith. Silence.
Divided loyalties.
It was preventable.
It was inevitable.
It was what it was.
Now it is what it is.

But as the sun
peeks through the trees,
I’ve noticed
each of us,
mourning,
wanders back to the site
and stands awhile.
We assess damage. We gather
what we treasure most,
each stone,
each mirrored shard
reflecting who we were,
who we wanted to become,
reminding
us

as we linger
by the hammer, still in the center
of what used to be the floor,
that if we decide
more intentionally this time
to build a village square,
it only takes one of us
to begin.

* * * * *
National Poetry Writing Month
30 poems in 30 days

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2 Responses to “we used to know”

  1. Sharmili M April 26, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

    Well, this one I want to talk to you about. Preferably over drinks.

    Sharmili Majmudar

    Pooling resources does make a difference – http://www.crossroadsfund.org On Apr 26, 2016 9:54 PM, “Are you the babysitter?” wrote:

    > RoiAnn posted: “We used to know without pause which blouse, which skirt, > which shoes, which size was right – what time work ended – how to connect > when one of us failed to answer the phone. If one of our kids was melting > down, if it was too late, we’d wait with each oth” >

    • RoiAnn April 26, 2016 at 10:11 pm #

      Mmmm. Definitely over drinks. Text me.

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