this is a poem for you

to get the board on to standing

I take the boy out for pancakes and at the table, he draws in his notebook while I read. It is early and for a time, we are alone in the cavernous dining room. Then, men come in in yellow jackets from the construction site. They sit at a table nearby. They order steak and eggs and bacon and potatoes and toast. I have never seen anyone eat steak and eggs for breakfast. It sounds delicious. 

They are young and they speak loudly. They are talking about vacations. About snowboarding. One says: “I couldn’t get the board on to standing.”

In the writing, a tiny breakthrough. A sliver of light for which my gratitude is boundless. 

Another man comes in. Another order of steak and eggs. I spread jelly on my toast. I pierce the yolk of my egg. 

At the next table: “Everyone was driving around with their eyes closed last night. I saw three accidents, full-on. Four, maybe.”

We stay at the table for a long time. When we are done, I take my lipstick from my purse. There was a time when I would see women doing this in a restaurant and I would turn away in distaste. There seemed to me, at the time, something forlorn about such a scene. A whiff of despair. But here I am, my pocket mirror flipped open and propped against my plate. I bring my face down toward it, slick the brush across my lips. I will catch a glimpse of myself in window glass sometimes and see my bright red mouth, the last feature on my face to hold out against desolation.

I take Dorothea Lasky to the gym and while the glowing screen tracks my slow progress, I read. The din of television screens all around me, but this:

This is a poem for you

How could this come to a good conclusion
I thought of your face, strange and French
And your sweater full of robins
You most likely think
I do not pay much attention
To your face
But I was sitting by the train
When inside I saw it burning
I’m sorry that some people
Think of this burning as nostalgia
Or sentimentality
And that we have to endure them
And that they are so boring
To want to think away everything
That is beautiful on this earth
I’m sorry that we have to think
Of other times when it might have been
More acceptable to burn
You were there
When I told you that a cold November
Would come
Wind and rain, the cold
May have hardened me
But there is not much else I am willing
To leave anything for but your
Face that is wet with wildflowers
The white wind, the warm wind
The cooling prisms above the beach
The beachtrees and scattered leaves
Above the Winter that will never come
I am not sure if we matter
I am not sure if your face matters
But I will destroy this house for it anyway 
But I will scorch this black world for it anyway
Wet face and wild wind
I told you all it would come
This is a poem for you
This is a poem for all of you
Awful and quiet

It is a stunning autumn day. I drive beneath the branches of trees still golden and orange and red. Bright sun high in slate blue sky. My son, in the back seat, sings quietly.  It is a song about the constellations. It is a song about the earth, tiny planet spinning in an endless expanse of stars.