Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Past

by Anne Waldman

You said my life was meant to run from yours as
streams from the river.
You are the ocean I won't run to you
We were standing on Arapahoe in front of the Silver
Saddle Motel
They had no rooms for us
I wore high red huaraches of Mexico & a long skirt
of patches
You had traveled back from Utah
I thought of the Salt Lakes, seeing them once from a
plane they were like blank patches in the mind or
bandaged places of the heart
I felt chilly
I had just ridden down the mountain with a car full of
poets, one terrified of the shifting heights, the
dark, the mountains, he said, closing in
I said Wait for me, but I have to go here first, or, it's too
complicated, some kind of stalling because I
wanted you
You were direct, you were traveling light, your feet
were light, you hair was light, you were attentive
Were you rushing me?
We walked by the stream, you held me, I said I have to
get back soon because he's waiting, maybe he's
I think the moon was waning
You walked me back along 9th Street under dark trees
The night we met, June 6, we'd come out of the New
York Church to observe a performer jumping over
I was with my friend, a mentor, much older
You were introduced to him, to me
You said you'd followed me out from that night to where
the continent divides, where my heart divided
I wrote poems to you in Santa Fe
You followed me all the way to Kitkitdizze
I waited for you, when you came I was away
I drove miles to speak with you on the telephone
I met you in Nevada City after nearly turning back to
put out a fire
We went to Alta, the lake of your childhood
I wanted to stay forever in the big room with all the
little white beds, like a nursery
You were like first love
All the impossibilities were upon us
We never had enough time
In Palo Alto where they name the streets after poets I
admired your mother's pretty oriental things
In San Francisco we ate hurriedly at the joint near the
opera house
I lied about going to Chicago for your birthday in New York
I lied about spending Christmas with you in Cherry Valley
I will never forget the dance you did to the pipes of
Finebar Furey on New Year's day. You kept your
torso bent to protect your heart
Then I moved to Colorado
We met and sat in the yard of a friend's brother's house in
Missoula, Montana
It's wonderful the way this city turns serenely into
country with no fuss, the city is shed, or is it the
other way around, the country falls off into the
It was how I wanted us to shed our other lives at least
when we were together
In that yard you made me feel our situation was
We seemed to be in constant pain
When we parted at the small airport early that morning
my heart finally ripped
In the spring back in New York, things got darker
I was sick, my head was swollen
I remember reading to you about the Abidharma on a
I had trouble speaking
I behaved badly and embarrassed you at the uptown
A part of you had left me for good
You'd given your loft over to weekly parties
You were having a public life. I felt you were turning
into me
I wanted our private romance
Was I being straight with you, I wondered?
I let you think things of me that weren't true. You
thought I was wise & couldn't be hurt
Then I had the person I lived with and what could
be said about that?
That summer you visited my hotel in Boulder. We
slept on separate mattresses. I felt I was trying to
imprison you and after you left I couldn't go back
there for days. When I did I found a dead bird had
gotten entrapped, struggled fiercely to get out
The following winter I waited for you in sub zero cold,
wearing black. I was told you'd come & gone. You
didn't return. We spoke on the phone for a long time.
I said I was going home and falling in love with someone
else. You said It sounds like you want to
My mother heard me crying and came to me in the
bathtub and said O don't, it breaks my heart! I
told her I was going to the hell for a while I'd often
made for others, karma worked that way. Bosh
karma she said
We've met briefly in Portland, Oregon and New York
We've corresponded all this time, following the details
of each other's lives and work
Your father has recently died
My baby son grows stronger
The last time I saw you you were standing on my
street corner
As I came toward you you said What a youthful gait
you have

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