You seemed happy,

said you were in love—

someone completely unsuitable,

oh, but adorable, sexy, devoted.

Hair trimmed, eyes wide, flush

with wine, joking, gossiping

about friends you’d shown


no interest in a month ago,

you agreed you were better,

if not healed. Dipping fish

into sauce, you improvised for a toddler

the tale of rascal mare Bellina

pinching her rider’s hat to spin it

over the moon; you looked happy.


It didn’t last. I held your hand

in coffee shops; chain smoking,

you paced the parking garage.

I panicked you might throw yourself

from a bridge, under a car—

we both knew men who had done that.


Pills helped. You moved the most

painful photos; new books and CDs

slumped around your chair.

You clipped an ad for L.L. Bean’s

“Bi-Polar” jacket. No dividing

contentment now from chemistry

and, dear, I don’t know my way


out of this poem. Guess why

I love a friend or chose to marry

one man, not another—anyone’s

as good as mine if “mind”

is only noise from calibrated

blips of atoms. Let’s walk

past the river. Don’t look down—


at the marble step, push open

the door to La Casa Bellina.

We’ll swipe bread from the tables, sip

nectar distilled from honey and fog

and stiff the old libation bearers—

naked under black tuxedoes—

throwing silver as we go.





Joyce Peseroff’s fifth book of poems is Know Thyself (Carnegie Mellon). She edited  Robert Bly: When Sleepers Awake, The Ploughshares Poetry Reader, and Simply Lasting: Writers on Jane Kenyon. A Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, she directed the MFA Program for its first four years, and currently blogs on writing and literature at <>.






Issue #63 October 2016
Share This