Site Maker

Shadow and Light: The Transitory

Summer, 2004

Diane Wakoski

To the Man Who Lived Upstairs

and Closed His Door On MeTwenty-Five Years Ago

You closed your apartment door on me

      (No, I don't even

      remember it/ you had to remind me)

when I, your downstairs neighbor,dvh
was banging on it,
to escape my young husband,
the man who pounded my head against the floor
and drove me to Bellevue when I started screaming,
he begging the interns who looked like bewildered pelicans,
to lock me up because I was crazy.
Poison is a
relative concept.
The blue hyacinth glass
sitting in my window: cobalt blue.
Radiation: both death and cure.

Trying to escape from someone I loved,
who was both death to me,
and life,
the cobalt beautiful blue
treatment which I wanted to cure me,
from loneliness, from lack of love, or sex, or men,
in my ivory life.

Love multiplied like cells
that have forgotten what they're supposed to do.
The gorgeous blue light
from his eyes glowed at me
through my translucent window,
and you closed your door,
feeling helpless against radiation,
and a knowledge that there was nothing
you could do to help.
Yet, you've always felt guilty, you said,
and I want now
from the Pacific Ocean blue of my escaped and radiant life
to assure you that you were right
in closing the door,
not getting involved in something
you would never have had any
power to control or remedy.

You peeked out of a New Yorker's chained door.
"Can't get involved."
but like all the fearful, you
bear a burden of guilt from that denial.
Thank you for coming to see me last night,
carrying my black-jacketed book,
to apologize.
I absolve you.
I did long ago in fact, by not
remembering the incident at all.
I was so weak, longed for men to be rescuers.

My father's navy blue uniform was
the blue glass I wanted to hold me, but
I should have known from my missing father
that blue is not always a rescuer.
That occasionally the sapphire of love turns black,
even then alluring you
with a star sometimes cutting out
from its midst.

Twenty-five years later,
you saw me simply as I am,
in my own blue denim uniform,
the Chief Petty Officer's daughter, all
strengths and weaknesses glinting differently
from cobalt to azure.