The Guilt That Gathers, Pudding House Press, 2009.
~OUT OF PRINT~
An excerpt, from page 16:
when he woke, he said, he heard someone
asking do you think anyone could
have survived this? and he called out
for help. that’s when he knew he was
alive, when he heard his own voice: help.
the people asked where are you? and he
called back i don’t know. they hollered
back and forth, like children playing marco
polo, the only water around him the rain
still falling, the thick wet mud he was lying in.
broken in so many places, you wanted, of all things,
your back scratched, rolling carefully onto one side
so my hand could reach your sweaty, itchy skin.
we’d pulled the blankets off, lifted your gown up,
and i’d seen the compression bandage across your belly
your penis below it, catheter attached, your scrotum
the size and color of an eggplant. you moaned
when i scratched--don’t stop—and I didn’t,
not till you were ready to slowly roll yourself
back into place, lowering your gown back
over the eggplant and raising the blankets
over your chest, hiding it all, all over again.
it didn’t help, in her mind, that it happened
after she’d left, that she wasn’t there
to protect you, or die next to you,
but she took comfort that the news
on tv and in the paper, keeping up
with your progress for days, never mentioned
you even had a wife. if no one knew,
no one could ask why she wasn’t there.
six months earlier the wife had tried to die
her own way, tried to kill the chaos
of guilt and debris twisting through her
brain but it didn’t work and she was forced
to say out loud the words she thought
would send her to hell: i want a divorce.
turns out not saying it was the real hell.
turns out a little r and r on the psych ward
wound up changing everything.
everything’s fine now, see?
dorothy’s house blew away but it didn’t
blow up. her house killed a wicked witch
but ours scarred a good man. she found color
and midgets and gold bricks and wisdom.
we found surgeons and insurance men,
a wheelchair and way to go through with
the divorce. dorothy got to go home again.
with nothing left, there was nothing
to squabble over. no house, no kids,
no need for the lawyers. think of it:
the hand of god made the divorce
easy and cheap. turns out, there never was
a need for forgiveness.
copyright: Paula J. Lambert, 2009