Slow Leak by Ellen Doré Watson

If there’s one poem to be read today, let it be this.

Slow Leak
Ellen Doré Watson

I don’t know how to wish you well.
Your hair is out of control, you are downgraded and strange.
You used to be the man who whopped open his chest,
wandered on a happy shoestring, made a nearly
perfect girl. Times we were electric.
Our talks teased out newness, mixed surprising
pigment. Our battles were not over ground
that mattered, so we walked away from them
with invisible limps, beautiful sticks
with no blood. Thinking ourselves
a perfect fit, we began to forget each other.
The way the roots of a perfect lawn watered too much
get lazy. You thought you should not
have to ask. I thought my private fizzings
and stirrings weightless, but you got sapped.
Your secret began as a scar and turned
to a decision flavored with payback.
The size of my thirst, your silence!
Between us now is the continent we didn’t
finish, and one person’s regret.
Because you have none, this is what I will never
tell you: I took too many days off
from loving you. And: I thought we could both
get larger. And: Neither of us was the right one
to unlock the other’s body. My iron lung
of a father has become soft tissue,
joshing and washing the woman not quite still
my mother—a long tack in a small, hand-made boat.
You and I were so full of beans and promise—
I’m ashamed we failed at forever.


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