Let me tell you, it takes some discipline
to leave the phone be when I think of him,
the grifting boyfriend who lives still in her house.
Last time I called, a woman picked up the phone.
I heard about his plans to marry again,
his love for the woman’s daughter. What a feeling!
Call me small, but I don’t want to know
if he ever married that woman same age as me.
I don’t want to know what plants she grows,
or if she ever tried on that dress he kept.
Has she thrown out my mother’s dishes? I don’t know.
Has she painted the cabinets? Read her unpublished poems?
He said the girl loves reading. She’s got my books.
I hope she finds my Edna St. Vincent Millay.
I hope this, though I do not know her name,
that she reads those poems and finds in them that strength,
that verve, that edge that she (though I don’t want to know)
will need to get through those drunken afternoons,
the blurry nights, the quiet quiet mornings
and patient reassembly of herself.
Though I don’t want to know it won’t be enough,
(and I know it won’t), I hope I left behind
enough of me that he could not wipe out
all traces of the girl who did survive.
When I said my name, when she handed over the phone,
Why are you calling here? That was a surprise.
In his suicidal months, I phoned each day.
My absence is like the kitchen microwave.
Empty, handy, always standing ready.
I’m not such a fool to think the man has changed.