Break Up Poems from 15 Years Ago

Break Up Poems from 15 Years Ago

There is no particularly significant reason for writing / publishing this right now. I’ve just been frantically searching for some documents and I kept bumping up against these poems.  

I have been with my husband for 25 years. We have a 14 year old daughter. Every now and then my husband and I will try to imagine ourselves with a different partner. A different life. It’s hard to do. It seems we are so woven together now. We love each other. Yet, we have also had hard times and doubts. In 2000 we were separated for a short period. We’d grown so far apart and had different social circles, different jobs, and had spent almost no time with one another for over a year. We were both so lonely and it seemed impossible to go on together. We had been together 10 years. This was before our daughter was born. I didn’t know what to do. I had a flirtation at my job and I was afraid that something would come of it. I knew if something did happen with this colleague then my marriage would really be over and I didn’t want it to end.

We were living in San Francisco at the time. I decided to take a trip to New England. It was early fall 1999.

I had been raised in Massachusetts but my father had died in 1993 and my mother and I were estranged. She’d moved back to Georgia. There was no “home” to go back to in Massachusetts but I flew back anyway. I rented a car and drove around and wrote poetry. I stayed at Historic Inns or with friends. I drank a lot of wine. I was searching for something. I was so lonely and empty.

It was autumn and the foliage was breathtaking.

 I spent a month trying to figure out what to do next with my life. I didn’t know that my husband and I would work things out. I didn’t know that I would have my daughter only two years later.

I know all couples go through their struggles. And after I wrote this we received some very upsetting news. My husband and I both know it will be a difficult journey for a lot of reasons. It’s not something I can write about here but when I left my therapist a message she asked if I needed an appointment. I said no “Ben’s here. He’s helping me.” and she said it’s good that I have a “safe harbor.”

These poems are my confused, angry, sad times with my husband. These are a few of the many, many poems I wrote on that trip. I was very much into ee cummings at the time. 


My hand is larger than the landscape.
I imagine it’s soft: the foliage.

The red is warm
the orange gentle
the yellow tickles.


Where do children live–
      inside our restless minds?

(how do they find the wind
as it whispers to them?)


Is there a light?
breaking through the sky–
illuminating the embers

half dead
     half glowing?


(I am)

Inside of you
before I see a casualty;

I wonder if I have a face;
like the trees. like memories.

(can tears wash my time aside?)

You told me (I remember), everyone has a face.


All of the fruit rots in our house.
That’s because there is no love.
Believe me.
Believe me when I tell you
that the vegetables rot too.
I find lemons: furry white and green
with mold melting into the glass
taking on the moon shape
      a sticky goo.

Our house has no air in it
and at night when we are sleeping


our throats close
and we wake gagging.

Visitors are blind.
They see the sun in the afternoon
casting rich, saturated yellow over our couch.
They see the curtains giving in
to the breeze and moving
gracefully back and forth against the sill


     The curtains level no complaint against the house.
     The cats look sad, but they also seem tired.
     I’m confused about the chairs.
          The table a cluttered mess.


You like the 


you’ve shown it to me
with your finger,
traced the arc
where the stars follow

you’ve held me with your eyes



my lips wait.

They believe the stars,

the arc,

the rising,

the opening.


Did I touch you through
the sea(through) vapor
of our hearts?

Is this mine (or) yours;
why am I alone now?

looking at mountains that ask me
to trace the lines between she:
who I had been (and)



its mushy
trying to sink into this experience

the landscape: old
my youth
and now a woman

I am back: same stone walls
Same industrial mills.

I have to take it slow
like breathing t-h-i-n-a-i-r
I’ll gasp and gulp
I’ll get dizzy

(I am an astronaut
floating, moving
through New Bedford).


I think about all this, and
running my fingers
through time
It is not that simple
is it (my darling)?

Finding your voice
still turns me
inside, but I am
so sad that I die
out quietly, choosing
a more hopeful dream
that has eyes
and hands
that understand my flesh


I know the difference between
safe and unsafe.
Buried in the Berkshires

of course I’m safe.


My present: my feelings,
my darling
in the night of our love
darkness is sadness

and my heart lost




in a certain rhythm
a blind knowing,
my darling.

through the depth
(this night)
and into the absence

of our love.

Here we are going to the courthouse to be married just a few years after these poems were written:


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