The photo above is an outtake from Gran Fury’s 1988 “Kissing Doesn’t Kill” campaign. It was shown as part of a video loop at a Gran Fury retrospective exhibition last year. Seeing our young faces from before we were married reminded me of this poem I wrote for James around the same time that the photo was taken.
Letter to James
This morning after you left
I slept until the phone rang,
and I let it ring. Then
the woman upstairs threw water
down the fire escape, which set
the pigeons off. I was hoping
a few of them got clean.
Sleep again, and dreams that
our house was besieged by starving
cats. I set bowls outside both
doors, filled with heavy cream.
My mother hung over the house
like a great bat, that kind
of shadow, that kind of fear.
But when finally I couldn’t sleep
any more, I had some cereal like
we do each morning, and thought
it sounded funny, one bowl and one
spoon. Some mornings the spoon
against your teeth bugs me, but
living with someone is like that.
originally published in The Mississippi Review, Spring 1991
February 22, 2013