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Annucci, Marilyn / Luck

Questions of purpose,   pp. 15-16

Page 15

Questions of Purpose
The woman I live with, meaning my partner (but
not business), my friend (but more than that),
my lover (but only sometimes), my significant
other, wife-but-not-really is crying tonight,
while I sit on the other side of her wall
working words that will tell you, stranger:
I am sick of her heaviness, of her sobbing.
Words that sound selfish and cold.
My friend Martha Looney used to sing
Make the world go away
Get it all off my shoulders
in the asphalt school yard in 1974-
when we were 13 and knew already
how sadness was big as the world, which meant
big as our families -
my own mother glum at the kitchen table,
my father angry about the Puerto Ricans and long-haired men,
whatever he let keep him from his own grief.
Martha would sing the words in a pitch so
desperate, so urgent
we could only laugh at our helplessness,
at our own small lives, waiting for the bell to ring.
My significant etcetera needs to know
why she's here, meaning in the world,
what it is we're meant to do -
questions of purpose that haunt me, too,
though I like to think I'm here partly to comfort,
which means I'm sad when I cannot,
when I'm too sick of sorrow myself, too tired
of tears, like tonight, tired even of language
which will never let me tell it all, never get this right,
how sometimes I miss Martha Looney, her sad funny song,
miss, too, the times I'd chase her down the street with dog doo
on a stick, until she'd stop, swing
toward me like a lunatic, eyes rolling,

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