I’m an idiot because once
before we were married she asked me whether I knew
that we would not be having children
if we did get married, and I said yes.
And because she knew I was lying,
she asked if I was really okay with that.
And because I’m an idiot I said yes again.
And once during a fight, not married
more than two years, she said she felt like my first wife,
and I, like an idiot, assured her that she was.
She worked out at the gym five times a week
and smoked as many packs of ultra lights,
and I’m an idiot because when I asked her why,
She said, Because I hate myself and I want to die.
And I laughed and said something I don’t recall,
something completely and utterly insufficient.
From the roof of our apartment,
I saw 40 or 50 people jump from the towers
on a Tuesday morning—we used to be able to see them to the south,
just as, to the north, we can still see
(and by “we” I guess I mean now just me)
the Empire State Building,
which still steeps me in gratitude
because I’m an idiot—
out of the smoke with arms flailing.
And I swear I saw a perfect swan.
And I was going to write a poem
about how fire is the only thing
that can make a person jump out a window.
And maybe I’m an idiot for thinking I could have saved her—
call me her knight in shattered armor—
could have loved her more,
or told the truth about children.
But depression, too, is a kind of fire.
And I know nothing of either.
Depression, too, is a kind of fire.
— Taylor Mali
We wake this morning
and the funny man has stopped
laughing has stopped dancing
and there is nothing we can do
to relight the torch extinguished
as if by some squall in the night
This language we know falls short
of explaining the loss of a person
into himself. Depression we say
addiction we say suicide the
window the bottle the empty eyes and
the full bathtub
We say darkness
We say darkness but we do not speak
but we must speak
we must not let the words go unsaid
must not be afraid of the light in us
must not pretend we have not seen it
the missing note in a friend’s song
the mind’s closed door like the seal
on a mausoleum
these people are like you are afraid
of being forgotten I am afraid of being
forgotten he was afraid of being forgotten
is afraid of being forgotten we are afraid
of being forgotten they are afraid of being
forgotten so say their names like they are
something you know like they are not
the dead but like they are the prayer because
we are the prayer because we know
the darkness know the people inside of it
but if we forget how to reach in we will forget
how to reach out I have been afraid
of knocking on the closed door
but no longer no longer no longer will I carry embers
in my mouth and not speak no longer
will I carry unsaid prayers for those of us
walking yes I will speak at the door speak
when I see the darkness god bless us because we can
speak like our teeth are flint speak
against the squall in every night speak
like we are lighthouses speak
like we are the sun because we are because we
are because we are and we must speak
for those trying to follow our starlight