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Poet in the Post: The Heat of Crying

March 10, 2011


She told everyone I cried.
I don't remember crying,
but she said that I did.
She dumped me in fifth grade,
on the phone,
and then told all the other pony-tailed girls
that I cried like I was one of them.
I still don't remember the tears,
but I do remember being sad--
I remember being a sad, little fifth grader.

It wasn't love, but, at the time,
I might have used the word,
and if I did cry,
it was because I didn't know
that the good things--like love--
could die just like gold fish.
Gold fish are good, too,
but I didn't cry when Mom and I
buried them in the flower garden.

There were other good things in fifth grade:
sleepovers and German spotlight,
Marvel trading cards,
and being up to bat in kickball.
I don't do any of those things anymore,
but I can't remember crying over them,
or when my girlfriend dumped me.
Okay, I did cry once in kickball
because I didn't want to let the team down.
Then I popped up and let the team down.

I also got teary eyed after my last track race,
in high school. I sat alone,
in the shade of the bleachers,
and I cried, sad that the circular patterns
of my life were becoming straight lines.
I can admit that,
but I don't remember crying on the phone,
except for when my Papa died.
I cried for him. It was a good cry,
and I cried for my other grandparents, too,
at their funerals, when we buried them.

I've been several ages, at different times,
each birthday like a lap around the track,
and I've lived in several places
that I'll never live in again.
And I know I'll never be young again,
and I have friends that I'll never see again,
that I never said good bye to,
and when I think of them,
I wonder if maybe I should cry more often and acknowledge the passing
of all these splendid moments,
that maybe I should let the Heat of the sun get to me:

sweat tears and say,
are you happy now
that I'm so sad?

But then I remember those old phones
with their circular dials and how all
those gold fish were fine
as long as they kept moving,
and I grow warm with laughter,
happy that I've been so sad;
happy that my scales have carried this much weight,
that fishbowls make me swim in circles.

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