The Iowa Review

She Who Knows the Sadness of Things


Song 1

I toss her name around, like an unwanted gift.

It was not like her.

But it was like her. It was only you who discovered a side of this person you weren’t aware of.

She who knows the sadness of things.

Song 2

We place ourselves under the tree, in the white rain; she is made of clay, and can crack if she gets too cold. I put a woolen blanket around her shoulders.

The bits of fluff fall from her, like hair or hope.

Song 3

When I was little, I had to sleep on a bench in the living room. A glass owl watched over me, this precious child.

I always read from

Our Town, act 3, before I went to bed. First I read from the Bible, then I read from Our Town.

There, the ghosts in the cemetery say: You are here to forget.

Song 4

I let time go as though it doesn’t exist. She thinks about time all the time.

She is naked, as though I won’t recognize her with clothes on.

I could probably have been happy with her.

Drunk wine and sung songs and wished that I were dead.

She is crying, too. That makes me happy.

It is not enough to grieve; one must keep getting new sorrows.

Song 5

She writes in the light, all day long, if light means day. Sleeps at night.

She hums during the day: Here I am, here I am. I don’t answer with the comforting echo: I am here.

Song 6

I run through the forest; I run alone. Am just about to make love to a bush. Fear of the fox.

Song 7

She needs nobody.

Nobody needs nobody.

Song 8

She points at the tracks, small bits of fluff along the floor.

I must have dragged the blanket with me, walked back and forth, before I flew away, left her behind on the earth, placed her here, went.

She puts rose petals in my hair, yellow at the bottom, red on the outside, just like time. She washes my feet with her hair. Becomes shy. Tries to make a sort of farewell sign before she leaves.

Song 9

She gathers sorrows and worries, counts the number of times I have ruined her life.

She twists her hands as though she wants to pray, but doesn’t know how to begin.

Sometimes she wants to say words are not enough.

Song 10

Why does she always come back to the wind, grass, flowers? If the world ends these are what will come back first.

Song 11

Everyone’s mind can change. No, not everyone’s.

Why did you leave me?

It was a mistake; I’m sorry. Sorry?

It’s too late now.

It’s too late, it’s too late, it’s too late.

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