I find myself at this midpoint – a balancing act between my mother and even my grandmother (who turns 90 next week!) and my children. Me with my arms full of groceries and house repairs, my hands on the steering wheel going from this lesson to that practice, my worry on the checking account and the kids’ well being. My mother and grandmother can let some of that go now. My children, especially my daughter, are just beginning to sense that there are things in this world much bigger than them, things that can make them cry without knowing exactly why. I am still in this place of crying sometimes unexpectedly. A piece in the newspaper. The images on TV. The waves outside my vacation window.
I see, too, that I’ll move to that other place, the later place, away from this rush-rush. But not yet. And I hope I take the tears with me.
Now, I make the kids dinner and dinner and dinner. And I wash their clothes and check to make sure they’ve really used shampoo. I sign permission forms and check the school calendar. I try not to want too much. I want, yes I do. But less – a little less each year. And this feels good. A shedding of sorts. And I try to see what is there with clear eyes and with light from above, knowing that it is all so brief.
by Dorianne Laux
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punch line, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it. Let’s stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
“Antilamentation” by Dorianne Laux, from The Book of Men. © W. W. Norton & Company, 2011.