What I Mean to Say But Haven’t
After Lahiri’s Survivorman
Here’s a lie: when you told me you and your wife had been separated
for two years, so it wasn’t as if you were really married, I believed you.
Here’s a truth: the first time you kissed me up against my car
after a clandestine dinner at that Mexican dive bar, I kept my eyes open
and watched an old man hold the door for his stooping wife who used a walker.
Here are some facts: I may have bought you the green toothbrush
that lies beside the sink and the razor in the shower, but most days
when I see them I forget why they’re there. When your wife and I
had a parent-teacher meeting to discuss how your little boy likes to run
around the playground pulling all the girls’ pigtails, I almost told her
you weren’t at work, but grabbing Chinese take-out to bring to my apartment.
And whenever I see the toilet seat up I still think a stranger has broken in.
So I saw this Jhumpa Lahiri poem that started out “Here is a fact:” and I don’t know why, but it got me thinking, and all of a sudden I had this structure in my head that I wanted to somehow work with. And out came this.