Gratitude by Ester Bloom


Gratitude

She once asked me
why I never wrote poetry
about her

my tongue darted around my mouth
like a startled fish when its tank
has been tapped

I looked at her and remembered
how when we walked from her house
to our favorite clothing store,

she pushed me to the inside
of the sidewalk, sure that if I edged
too close to traffic, I’d be sucked in

and drown. When I slept over
at her house
she toasted my waffles for me

and let me read the comics first, and,
in the old days, before anyone knew
what “learning disabled” meant,
she told me I
was the only one allowed
to call her dumb. Of course,
I never did. I had frequent nightmares
about her exploding: reduced to fireworks of flesh
by a sky-blue truck
as she played in the middle of
the street. The mornings after these dreams,
I’d sit with my nose

pressed to the glass of the bus window
until we pulled up to her house and she
climbed on, unfragmented, and I could
breathe again. When I turned sexual
(like turning colors, blushing,
bruising) she

was the only one who saw.
I lay on her bed, a five-foot long
panting, radiating thing:

hooked on, demanding
her hand in something less
than marriage: and she obliged

massaged me back to life.
There are no Hallmark cards
for thanks like these. No words,
and hence no poetry, til now.
Forgive me, love. I still dream
sometimes about you crumbling against

a pickup truck which I see coming,
which my screaming cannot stop. I keep my nose
pressed to the glass

now, til you absolve me.
I will not breathe until
you do.

                – Ester Bloom
                   Words Dance #4 Spring 2004