poem: coal miner

For the lady that burnt photos of her ex, to use the ash for coal

This is what it means to be sexy.

Only in certain hands can heartbreak be so pragmatic.
I have a bookshelf of failures that beg for a kindling.

I beheld the picture she created with her ex’s coal,
his every expression and remark reduced to its essence,
applied with less brush than finger,
a blur of DNA no one could argue about.

She was not obligated to be so gentle.

I once took a CD my ex mailed me
and snapped it in five, not imagining I could have melted it,
scattered it onto a canvas and left interpretation to
whoever gave a damn.

This lady’s painting left me wishing I’d dated more artists.
A sculptor. A sword maker. Chef. Glassblower.
How in absence I could have been morphed into
porcelain with no burden of rage.

I could have sat, inanimately, on a leaning table in a yard sale.
My purchase less joy than relief,
her photo albums laughing lighter, without me.

I could have been sold to an upscale pawn shop,
the money from which she’d use to buy that dress,
finally on sale.

I could have been steaming on a plate fresh from the kitchen,
in the iron arms of a server still giddy over her engagement ring,

delivered to table 34, where a young woman and her son
had their first public dinner since the divorce.

I am none of those things.
I’ll have to settle for the couch left on the sidewalk
after we’d both moved out,
the mattress we wouldn’t touch without gloves,

the loss of breath when the wrong song cuts through
a coffee shop radio, when the eyes erase the room,
the hands cradle the forehead,
mouthing anyone else’s name…anyone else’s name.


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