By Benjamin S. Grossberg
Is the never of childhood, deeper
than the never of adolescence,
which has a whining, stammering
quality, which is a stamped foot
followed by huffing steps, and wholly
unlike the never of adulthood,
has none of the bright spider
cracks of reason multiplying
along its roof, threading its dark
dome with fine lines of light.
Didn't you think, with such a
cavernous never in mind,
you might have consulted me?
Even a 3 AM phone call would've
been justified. On the line
in the dark, you could have shared
a little childhood mythology,
told me about some night when
you didn't sleep, couldn't hear
your parents, and morning seemed
further away than "far away,"
seemed consigned to a distinct
and inimitable never. You could've
evoked for me the particular textures
of that never, explained that
you were mulling them again now,
assaying them for a contemporary
application. Sure, I'd have been
startled. What would you expect—
hearing how your childhood bed
sank into a hollow in the earth,
or how nighttime had, snickering,
closed you in its trench coat, and
how the residue of the experience,
the resin it left, you were brewing
into something for us. I'd have
wanted to see you right away
and would have been myself
forced to wait till next morning.
So, I, too, would've spent
an evening in an underground
hollow, or bundled up inside
night's coat, wading through
one never on the off chance
that I could forestall another.
"I wrote this poem at the end of a painful relationship, a sustained experiment in withholding (on both sides)," Grossman told Poets.org. "That experience saturates the poem, evident not only in its belated call for communication, but also in the manner of that call."
I took Thursday off from everything except goofing off with Cheryl! Though we had a near-crisis when we got home from picking up lunch at Lebanese Taverna and discovered three separate screw-ups (grape leaves never even included in the order, plain hummus missing, hummus with veggies replaced by hummus with meat that neither of us eats), then were told when I called that they had no record of the transaction even though I had an order number and credit card receipt, took dropping the name of the marketing director to get the manager to stop jerking me around. Meanwhile Cheryl and I were watching Rough Magic, in which Bridget Fonda is fun, Russell Crowe is awesome, and the storyline is total crack, and Flushed Away, which Cheryl had never seen and Hugh Jackman as a rat who sings and parodies Disney is really a must-see.
Paul came home just as the second movie was ending, after which we all went to take a walk in Cabin John Park at Locust Grove to see the changing leaves whose peak we mostly missed while we were in Los Angeles. On the way home, we stopped at the produce stand near my house to get a pumpkin, whose season we also mostly missed -- they only had the huge $16-$20 ones left (the food store yesterday only had the tiny $8-$10 ones left, and we had no time to get to an orchard before tomorrow). Then we all watched the Carrey-Oldman-Firth A Christmas Carol (wrong season, I know, but it has ghosts) before Cheryl had to go. After a quick dinner, Paul and I watched Gracepoint and rejoiced over the return of Elementary, though I must admit I liked the villain in the premiere better than the new regular.