The strands of my hair still tangle
in the cleats of the skiff you took me on
that day. And can you fathom I once told you
that you didn’t have to keep me awfully well,
that I could give up lots of things if I had to,
that I expected to live differently?
Now I expect the trees around that lake
will bend in at the corners a bit
when the next young thing
in velvet taffeta finds the next Gillette.
Do you think anyone knows
I told you I was bidding goodbye
to my favorite places, so earnest
was I about your return?
Good thing. I now call you Gillette
as I should’ve never called you sweet.
First I said goodbye to the spring house,
with its great masses of green moss;
then the apple tree, where we had our playhouse.
Of course, you had no accounting of why
a person would not fear poverty
on account of her fear you’d never come back.
Only courtroom sketches tell us how to name
those missing hours, which are lies,
or a lake of lies. I protect you, which is worse,
because you should’ve been forgotten
at the bottom of your own moss-grown lake.
Today the crowds gather
with you at the center of prejudice,
a conundrum. No self-described
psychics help shuffle your spirit off
like they do mine, every year.
I have begun to wonder how long they think
a spirit can remain in one place,
but that lake is filled with spirits, too.
The moment I hold onto is when the DA
came waltzing into the courtroom
with our child in a specimen jar–there’s no accounting
for taste back then. Did I die by your hand?
To be honest, I can’t remember as memory
requires a body. But my hair will always
dip down beneath the surface of that lie,
Gilette, the one that says they know, they know.
They know for certain it was you.