Sometimes a poem insists on being written although you’ve no idea why. This is such a poem, initially provoked by the image of two women, one older and one younger, sitting across from each other in a sidewalk cafe.
She said deciding not to lovewas like swallowing a coyote that gobbled her heart a little at a time, not all at once. Ashes crumbled down her linen blousefrom the American Spirit witha pinprick of ember pausing on the surface directly above where her heart once burned. She said you have to meet a man at the level of his intentions and he never intended to cherish me, so I walked away. I had to ask the question that made her unavoidably unique: Do you regret it, the decision not to lovemy father? Her eyes dropped to brush the ash away then rose to order more whiskey sours. She knew my question rhetorical for I am the daughter she carried to term as that feral vow quietly butchered her. I am the only begotten who learned in utero to parse the howling silences of my mother’s life. I am the heir of a decision she did not regret, at least not all at once, but maybe a little at a time.