All in by Marissa Glover

by Marissa Glover

When we let go of anything, it’s always with the secret hope

that whatever we once held will one day come back to us.

 

This is a truth we don’t like to admit, even to ourselves.

We want to think we’re being generous or zen or wise,

 

when we move from the marital bed into the guest room.

But deep down we dream of a future return, some kind

 

of restoration; otherwise we’d never let go—

not of our small child’s hand, not of a lover who’s eager

 

to be someplace else, not of the happy dream that life could be better.

We treat our teaching job and our son’s school and a kiss goodbye

 

like waiting rooms, a temporary holding place for everything we love,

trusting that we will get it all back soon enough—healthy, whole.

 

But when the thing does not return, the truth we wouldn’t admit

is made clear. We let it go and wanted it to stay and it was always both,

 

at the same time. When the email notification says my points are expiring—

a CVS coupon, Old Navy Super Cash, BWW Blazin’ Rewards,

 

I want to rush out and buy something; it doesn’t matter what. I just can’t

bear to lose anything else. Not again. Not today. Not even 300 points.

 

Life is a series of repeated starts and stops; my time is measured

in the opening and closing of blinds, white wood slats on box windows

 

and the drawing of slate gray curtains across sliding glass doors.

Every morning opens, every evening closes—this day the same

 

as the day before. It’s hard not to wonder what’s the point.

My son’s hands are bigger than mine now—he holds his phone

 

a basketball, a pencil with no eraser. He doesn’t yet know

that his hands will never be big enough or strong enough.

 

I don’t have an answer when he asks why I let go of Daddy’s hand,

why I walked out. I think maybe I made a mistake because now

 

there’s no one here but me to close the curtains. No one but me

to ready the house for sleep. This life is not much different

 

from the life I kissed goodbye years ago, exhausted,

thinking it would someday return to me—healthy, whole.

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Marissa Glover teaches writing at Saint Leo University and is currently co-editor for Orange Blossom Review. Marissa’s poem “Some Things Are Decided Before You Are Born” was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize by The Lascaux Review. Other poems have appeared in Stoneboat Literary Journal, After the Pause, Gyroscope Review, and War, Literature & the Arts, among other journals. Follow Marissa on Twitter @_MarissaGlover_.