In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Burning the teakettle to a crisp because the whistle was broken and I forgot I’d turned it on.
Buying that black dress because it was on sale.
Losing my patent-leather pocketbook in the huge basement bathroom of the Lincoln Memorial when I was seven years old.
Not calling my daughter.
Calling my daughter.
Forgetting the dream about the blood-filled egg that broke despite all my efforts to hold it safely.
Getting sick on Seagram’s Seven at Wilkes College on the dorm mother’s night off.
Confusing compassion and obligation.
Not watching carefully enough what his face said that night.
Forgetting to pay attention.
Believing him when he said that withdrawal was a reliable method of birth control.
Losing control of my bladder, nine months pregnant, and rushing to New York Hospital, thinking my water had broken.
Watching my three-year-old son’s forehead bleed madly after he ran headlong into a wall until Christine, the six-year-old I was baby-sitting for, said, “Genie, you better take him to the hospital.”
Trying to find God as if mystery were an object.
Not realizing my dad loved me until, after his death, he visited me in a dream and held me close to his bony chest on a vacant train-station platform in the middle of nowhere.
Not loving enough.
Reading too many spiritual books, believing I could reason my way out of suffering.
Losing my grandmother’s silver sword-shaped pin and my mother’s gold Star of David.
Trying to find God by eating little but yogurt and fruit until my red-blood-cell count was so low I could hardly walk.
Burdening love, sweet weightless love, with anything.