The most usual lie

I wrote this poem some years ago, but I have taken it out today and dusted it off, editing it here and there. I removed a whole verse and changed words and line structure and some punctuation. It feels more authentic now. Sometimes revisiting a piece reminds us how far we have come, and how our writing has improved. Instead of berating ourselves for our earlier attempts that may now seem clumsy, let’s instead remember that at the time, they felt authentic. Then, let’s explore how our writing has evolved, what we can hold on to, and what we can let go.

 

The most usual lie

To tell the truth,

there is too much everything in the words “I love you”.

Forever and an instant.

It is the universal adaptor. Plug it in, and it will power

all manner of connections.

 

It is also the most usual lie,

which reminds me of the night that October

when we woke to the thick, exquisite pinkness of a night storm.

We yawned to the window, found each other’s sleepy hand,

and I said it.

But what I meant was: I’m glad I’m not alone.

 

Or that day eight years ago

when we sat by your father’s skeleton bed as he wheezed

and trembled towards death

and the horror of it all was a spiteful room attendant,

and I said it.

But what I meant was: I don’t want to die.

 

Or that morning when we were still happy,

as we washed our crumby dishes and the bubbles slipped

from dish to hand, egg cup to soapy forearm,

in the quiet of domestic usualness,

and I said it.

But what I really meant was: You do not wash dishes the way I do.

 

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