May 18, 2006

"A Kind of Surrender." by Geoffrey Philp

“A Kind of Surrender” is a follow-up to “All Suicides.”

A Kind of Surrender

(For Heather)

Over bright faces
in a photograph taken just days
after her fifteenth birthday
with Anna, my daughter, Lindsey, Jeffrey, and Christine
holding her aloft like some Greek heroine,
she would accept the dare
born from the fissure
between those whom she had loved
so much—the fault lines that unearthed fists
of pine that ringed wetlands, forests
of hardwood hammocks, and sinkholes
further north—and she would swallow
those hard white tablets, one
by one, while the pouis blared
their yellow trumpets against the lenten
sky parched by a pale promise ,
Azrael’s hands, spread between his luminous
wings, as he gently squeezed her heart--
a bitter pill for every year


There are evenings like this
when I understand why she slipped
from this life, desiring neither hell
nor heaven, no longer wanting to carry
the burden of becoming someone else’s lover,
wife, mistress, to just fall asleep
and let the dreams smother away
a lifetime of choices: the bad ones
that in time would look like wisdom;
the good ones that led to the bedroom
pillow, the stifled screams.

Yet downstairs, I hear the gurgle
of my neighbor’s newborn, the thump
of my son playing basketball with some kid
from down the street, my daughter dancing
to Middle-Eastern cries of habibi, habibi,
and I turn away from the bathroom cabinet
the chalky pills and the tub of water,
the tap left running, and welcome back
my loves arguing in the hallway, mumbling
in the living room, asleep on the verandah,
to whom I had become a stranger.

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