She signs her texts and emails
Laughing Out Loud
but inside she is crying,
slowly dissolving herself
into a thinner and thinner shell
riddled with hairline cracks.
I worry she will desiccate, disintegrate.
I pray that day doesn’t come.
Every time I read
a text of hers with that phrase,
I am consumed by dread.
THE DESIRE FOR REVENGE
Inside the desire for revenge
is a painful vulnerability,
a reminder of damage that won’t leave,
and you wish for satisfaction,
or just acknowledgment of the wrong.
Instead, frustration grows with denial,
and suffering returns in intensity,
as if time had scarcely elapsed.
Better not to ask for what won’t be given,
even for a great sin or terrible crime.
When at last you realize the hurt
the hope for revenge still causes you,
you can start to let go. Not acceptance,
but resignation, so unhealed wounds
may close over at last and scar.
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.”
-Shakespeare, The Tempest, III, ii, 140-3.
A waterfall for every day of the year
and the water so clean I could drink
from everywhere I saw it flowing.
Mountains and ravines, a tangle
of vegetation, blue and green.
Night and day the surf beat
against the rocky shores,
and the forest was full of sounds—
leaves rustling and the sweet song
of the mountain nightingale,
an elusive bird nesting
in the hollow trunks of trees.
In the lowlands, near the river,
grapefruit hung from the trees
like golden suns,
and a young woman,
her skirt hiked above her knees,
bare-breasted, stood in the shallow river
where it ran over rocks,
washing her clothes.
It could have been a scene
from a pastoral idyll of long ago—
that perhaps never existed,
a dream of someone’s life.
Into that life came a storm
that took everything away.
The woman I’d seen placidly washing
her clothes in a green dream
lost the blue house on the hillside
built by her husband—
all they had worked and strived for
washed away in the mudslide
after the hurricane,
when two months of rain
fell in a single day.
Anne Whitehouse is the author of poetry collections: The Surveyor’s Hand, Blessings and Curses, Bear in Mind, One Sunday Morning, and The Refrain. Her sixth collection, Meteor Shower, is forthcoming from Dos Madres Press. Her novel, Fall Love, is appearing in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes from Mundi Books. She is the winner of the 2016 Songs of Eretz poetry prize, the 2016 RhymeOn! poetry prize, and 2015 Common Good Books’ poems of gratitude contest.