Wellbutrin works wonders
for your ADHD. But you call me
Wellgibson, because I make you
happy. I make you happy––
is there anything left to do
in this life, my love?
I don’t think so.
Once, you drew a line
on the doorframe when you grew
to understand me better. The same day
I wrote you a poem in a patch of light
the sun had left on our wall.
An hour later the light was gone
but the poem remained, a whisper
in the shadows, just like you and I
after the stage lights, alone in our hotel bed,
whispering our favorite lines from all the poems
that fell out of strangers’ mouths by accident
when they were saying hello after the show.
I can’t tour anymore without you.
Something about how you look
driving my minivan. It’s so flirtatious
how you hit, literally hit on
every curb. The fender
is duct taped together in three places.
I don’t mind. Why try to look like I’m not
a fixer upper, when I wouldn’t want to be
anything else? I need a minivan
and I’m making space for the next one you find
which we both know you will find,
because I pull over when I see a stray dog
but you pull over, learn parkour, scale a building
and pole vault between rooftops, returning
with another furry bundle, freckling you
in fleas. Our dogs are barnacles and I’m a sturdy
canoe, but you’re the dreamboat they cling to
all night long. Even the wild one
who’s no longer here––we see her
ghost on the same days prancing through
our hallways bragging about how good
she has it, how her coffin was a cocoon
and how she’s now a butterfly
in God’s belly. I’ll never forget
how you held her when you let her go
without letting her go, how you clutched
her to your chest the whole ride home
then buried her in our garden
with your bare hands. I know
it still hurts, but it brings me so much
comfort to watch her grow. You’re the best
mother in the world, I suspect
because you learned how to do it
by watching yours. That woman worships you
so completely it’s as if she’s Mary
and you’re a Jewish baby Jesus
with biblical breasts.
The last time we visited your childhood home
I took a photograph of the front door,
your address–your lucky number.
What a coincidence. I only get lucky
when you’re around. Especially when you
plan to do yoga but end up filming yourself
dancing to Beyonce instead. Your hips, my favorite
film festival. Baby watch this watch this
watch this, you say, because you are the champion
of over-doing things. Two weeks locked in our basement
a day. Our closets spilling over
with secondhand wrapping paper you’ve collected
from every gift you’d been given for seven years.
You put so many pillows on our couch,
I have to sit on the floor. Which is to say
you ground me. For a while I thought
you were enlightened
until we figured out you have an actual condition
where you don’t know how to worry.
I’m still not convinced there’s a difference.
But just in case, I hope it’s okay if I keep trying
to turn you woo-woo. I just trust peace
is a telephone through which you will always be
able to reach me. And I’ll always need you
to reach me. You know how lonely I get when you fall
asleep before I do. And you always fall asleep
before I do because I’m up all night watching space
and a handsaw and your lipstick
on my temple. Thank you for following me
everywhere I go. I don’t mind
that it’s only to put lids on everything I don’t.
What can I say, I’m an open person.
So are you. You don’t just see people at their best.
You see people at the best they haven’t been yet.
Which is why you loved me long before
I loved myself. Thank goodness
once. Those gloves fit no one right,
and you always deserved a me
who didn’t have to squint
through bruised eyes to see you clearly.
Right now I’m watching you
outside the window sunbathing
topless in the snow, smelling like the same
tanning lotion my mother wore
when I was just a kid
and she was just a mom who had no idea
I’d grow up to find such a pretty man
of the house. But of course she loves you.
to escort the mice back to the pasture, teach spiders
how to weave their webs outside, and the ants—
okay the ants you slaughter with every weapon
you can find, but I forgive you because you
forgive everyone so easily, watching you do it
is like watching paint dry. There’s nothing
to see. Everything is just more colorful after.
Something I never told you about the day you sold
could drive me around town so I could be in the world
when I was too sick to be in the world—it mattered
more than you knew because I could not stop
thinking about the fact that you bought a car
that’s not safe to leave the state, the steering wheel
shining like a ring on your hand, a promise
to stay through all of my breakdowns.
I promise that too. I promise to go the distance
with you. This morning while I was trying
to figure out what kind of fish
everyone in our family would be, I asked you
what you thought you were and you said,
very seriously, Hold up, let me google
what the sexiest fish is,
no wait, the most beautiful fish. Oh look
there are angel fish! I am an angel fish!
It stuns me sometimes how well
you know who you are
in spite of the poison in the sea
that has everyone else drowning
in an idea that they aren’t worthy.
Self-hate is an environmental crisis
and you might single-handedly save
the world. You’re even energy efficient,
or you try really hard to be. I estimate you’ve spent
at least 387 hours in just the last two years searching
for sneakers you don’t have to tie
because it takes you so much time
to tie laces. My silver-haired beauty
in Velcro shoes–there is no one like you
anywhere. You mind your own
business. You change your mind as often
as you need to, and you never lie,
which irritates me
because you also edit my poems,
can’t keep that look off your face
when I use adverbs. Baby,
how on earth do you expect me
to not write the word beautifully
while you’re sitting beside me?
But beautifully doesn’t bug you
as much as honestly, which I honestly
begin half of my sentences with
and you’re worried that suggests the other half
of what I say is a lie. But here’s what I figured out
today–I am a liar. I lie all the time.
Remember the other day when I said,
“We will all have to say goodbye sometime.”
That wasn’t true. Saul was right
when he said, ”Only believers in death will die.”
Baby, I have never loved you more than I did
when you asked Liza how it felt to know
she would be leaving the world in just a few days?
I wanted to know so badly, but I was afraid
to ask. She was grateful you did, and how could I ever
fear anything after hearing what she said?
I think everything about you is a gift.
But it wasn’t always like this, was it?
There were many months we were more flammable
than instagrammable, but we were creative
of blame at each other’s skulls. I was gonna leave
that out of this, but this isn’t only for us.
It’s for everyone we can convince not to wait
for a tragedy to stop calling it zero/zero
and it could so easily be love serving love.
I had no idea how much would change
when all that mattered
became all that mattered.
These days our biggest argument happens
on our daily walks near the lake. I always want to walk
back the same way, which you don’t enjoy.
I like a circle, you say. We can’t agree
because I want to do it all again, see it from another angle.
The back of the coffee line when you didn’t know me
but told me I was ordering the wrong drink.
The back of my hand where I first wrote your name
so I could remember your birthday when we were still friends.
The back of your arms where you tattooed the longitude
and latitude of where we first danced. The birds flying
backwards back to the cold just like you racing home
from your lunch in the sun when I called to tell you
the doctor spotted something on the cat scan.
When I call cancer the Big C,
you are the only one
who knows I mean the big ocean
where we met our own Titanic and didn’t sink.
You even convinced me it was a good idea
for us to dress up as Jack and Rose
on Halloween. Though my baldness
was in position to pass up an opportunity
to wear a wig, I was a bit nervous to play the part
of the guy who dies. But I wasn’t really Jack,
was I, Baby? I was Rose. And your heart
was the door that opened so wide
it tore off its hinges and kept me afloat.
Some days you even managed
to convince me that to let you take care of me
was a kind of chivalry. It was very badass
of me to puke in front of you when I had no hair
for you to hold back. What can I say? I’m finally tough
enough to let someone see me on the inside.
Thank you knowing you had to be the one
to tell me what they found when I woke up
from surgery. Anyone who thinks poetry is frivolous
has never needed someone to tell them
something unspeakably hard, beautifully.
My guardian angel. My guardian angel fish.
Do you know that happened a year
after our camping trip where we blew up our bed
and carried it to the water, floated on our backs
in the middle of that Rocky Mountain lake,
cupped in the palm infinity.
You and I will never leave that place.
Just like I will never finish writing this,
my longest love poem, for which this
is only the prologue, Baby. I’ve barely begun.
Andrea Wellgibson 🖤
. . . . .