Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Trick or Treat (Pumpkins Revisited)

Ten years ago, Elliott Smith stabbed himself to death
with a knife between his ribs 
in his home in Los Angeles, where he’d moved
from Portland. A few days later, Abby and I
tromped through that dismal Pennsylvania
pumpkin patch together, in the process of our slow,
laborious breaking up. I wrote one of my
first poems about that afternoon. Perhaps that's why 
ten years later I can still see the mud, the flat sheet of gray
against which those caved-in carapaces glowed,
can still feel her cold hand in mine, though
there’s not a single cell left in my body now
that was ever touched by her.

This week, I went to another pumpkin patch
here in Portland with a couple of friends.
It was a gorgeous sunny day, the fields crowded
with healthy gourds, laughing children, happy families.
I spotted the perfect pumpkin immediately
and cradled it like a bloated orange infant
through the bumpy ride back, squatting on hay bales
tossed onto the back of a tractor-drawn flatbed.
A few days later I took a knife to it,
stabbed it as if it was my heart, only to find
that the entire thing was riddled with rot.
I put on my copy of Either/OR, scooped out 
the seeds, carved my face into the buttery flesh.

Ten years later she’s married and living in LA.
I am still in Portland, still writing shitty poetry.
I do my best to pretend I am not still waiting 
for her to show up in some disguise
as I sit here on the porch, a candle burning 
behind my eyes to light the way. 

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