I wrote this poem in 1996. Around that time I was writing a lot of poetry and doing some readings at Village Books and Stuart’s Coffeehouse in Bellingham, Washington.
Bellingham is midway between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. I lived there for 12 years.
When I pull out these older poems I’m tempted to work with them a little bit — maybe in this one play with pulling “sanity” up, consider using a serial comma in the last line and/or adding a line break after “shores” — but then I leave them alone because they capture my poetic voice at the time.
I felt I read this poem well and, even when I wrote new material, often would finish with it at readings. The one-beat pause at the end of the fourth-to-last line and the affective ending made it effective as a spoken work.
I considered reading it aloud today and embedding an audio file in the post, but it seems to me it was more a poem for that man to read than this one, alike as we are and aren’t.
Boulevard Park, Bellingham
A year of my life. Price paid for
Last year newly arrived I watched
The Fourth of July fireworks as the people
Having sex under the blanket next to mine
Didn’t notice the children playing next to them
And the children playing next to them didn’t notice
The people having sex under the blanket next to mine.
I noticed everything. That was all I had.
I come to the park today
And couples make love and children play.
I’m alone. My children, 2 and 5, were never born.
One named, the other not, they run sideways
On the grass under the sun by the bay
As I blow bubbles. Rachel falls again, and
Picks her up, and they begin once more chasing
The bubbles that nestle in grass,
Soar to distant shores and shatter on their unseen fingers.