Broken Glass

This is the first poem I’ve ever really shared, and the first I’ve written in years.  Context: my mother underwent surgery last week.  Nothing major, and she’s fine now, but this poem came about largely as a result of my frustration at being unable to be with her (my parents live in California).


Broken Glass

I’m standing here looking at broken glass
I mean the kind of broken glass that never wanted to hurt anyone
it’s big, big pieces and it’s easy to avoid and really
it doesn’t want to cut anyone
it just wants to be left alone or maybe even be put back together
but mostly it just doesn’t want to be
in the way.
You could put it back together and it wouldn’t be any safer
it wouldn’t be any more or less likely to hurt somebody because
it’d still be broken glass only now it’s with duct tape or glue or just
stuffed inside a big plastic sack.
You could pick up the pieces after you dropped it
and sweep it all up and fit it back together
and you’d never get it right
but you can’t stop trying, either,
because you’re the fuckwit that broke it in the first place.

And I’m standing here looking at this glass
and I can’t help thinking that maybe, just maybe
bodies don’t need glue, they just need time,
or maybe love
but love heals souls I don’t know if it heals bodies.
Time, time heals bodies and
time also tears bodies apart,
age and wear and tear and
love and hate and wisdom and folly
and all those little cracks
in the psyche, in the brain, in the body
they get a little bit wider.
Cracks that run deep, deep enough to run
from outside in or inside out
and split you in two, in three,
in a fucking hospital bed
where you can’t even tell you were ever alive
and all you know is pain and death and brokenness.

And I’m standing here looking at this glass
and I can’t stop thinking about my mom.
I’m starting to see the cracks and I know
it’s gonna split her in two
and no amount of love or glue or time
is gonna make that better.
Your body breaks down you get a new one, right?

And I hear them telling me it’s all right
routine procedure
better now than later
better late than never
better wait outside now
better just stay where you are
no need to come visit
I’ll be okay, son, I’ll be okay.
My dad’s got these lines,
these cracks in his forehead
and his eyes and his hands
and he looks like he’s been patched up too many times already
but nothing could have prepared him to watch his wife go under.

Time heals all wounds until it doesn’t.

And I’m standing here looking at this broken glass
and I keep thinking I can put it back together
and make it work
and give it a purpose.
But now I’ve just got glue on my bloody hands
and I can’t tell if it’s my blood or hers.

But somebody’s singing something
so beautiful that it helps me breathe again,
starts to fill in those cracks and I remember
how young I am,
and how ashamed I should be to cry
over the loss of something
that was never mine to begin with.
Somebody’s singing something
so beautiful,
and if it isn’t her voice I’m hearing
then it damn well better not be mine.


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