by Marie Howe


Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, 
  some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, 
  and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. 
  This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, 
  and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high 
  in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries 
  in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. 
  And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee 
  down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: 
  This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. 
  What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come 
  and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want 
  more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse 
  of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and 
  I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and 
  unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you.