A selection of poems by Lisa Mecham deftly explores the haze of infidelity, deflections that bring us back to ourselves and the anguish of facing a partner’s mental illness.
There’s No Way to Arrange It
without seeing each other
so request the two-top by the window.
Just a light embrace when she arrives,
shaking her umbrella, trying to catch
your eye. As you sit, decline the bread.
Fingers trace the glass rim, circle
the wedding band in your pocket, all around
her open mouth, butter so soft
it spoils when you reach across the table.
Swallow the café’s din, the brim
of infinity, down it with silence.
Deliver the ending.
She’ll look away.
In the restroom mirror see you,
your wife, thin mouth skin turned down,
your son, fingernail moons unrisen.
Don’t think of her, out there.
Her legs pressed, the dark in between
and what it absorbs.
There are boundaries to the universe.
When gravity pulls you back
she will be gone.
Just a greasy streak across the table.
The umbrella, slack on the floor.
I’m always in the wrong spot
in line, last in a row of women
pulled to the edge
of the curb to fetch children.
Cars idle, mothers gather
at rolled down windows, poking
heads into mint-conditioned air, whining
about lists of to-do’s and brown
ladies who clean, and husbands
strutting around with the starch
of profit, the stench of industry.
Sunlight storms my car, singeing,
reflecting off those other
paint jobs that make black go light
or maybe it’s the silver
smirk of their bumpers.
A bell sounds the release
of leotards and pink tights
and the one with knee circles of dirt
raps her knuckles at my window.
The morning you almost died
I woke to find your madness at the foot of our bed.
Sitting in the space your legs made with their crisscross,
scrawled on the pages that kept you up all night.
Look, you said,
(fanning the pages over and over and over again)
I filled this with the story of us.
Then you crawled to me and said,
(as if you were talking about which shirt you would wear)
I should drive off the road on my way to work.
I shook you off and said,
(as this was the first time your mania and I were making acquaintance)
don’t be silly, I need to get the girls ready for school.
So I roused them and fixed cheerios and waffles and eggs and
(you didn’t say goodbye when you left the house)
as I cut through the flesh of a ripe banana,
I saw you.
Driving faster and faster along that road by the reservoir
where we would sometimes walk, the four of us.
Where you skipped stones for our girls to their delight
(the ripple extending out, growing wider and wider, then gone).
I grabbed the phone to call you, to stop you.
Whispers between each ring, the trees beckoning,
and you answered on the last one.
* * *
Lisa Mecham writes a little bit of everything and her work has appeared in Amazon’s Day One, Mid-American Review and BOAAT, among other publications. A Midwesterner at heart, Lisa lives in Los Angeles with her two daughters and is finishing a novel about surviving mental illness in the suburbs; think: “Eat, Pray, Love” meets “The Shining” meets “Revolutionary Road.”
“There’s No Way to Arrange It” was originally published in BOAAT, July/August 2015.
“Refraction” was originally published in Bodega, Issue 20.
“Reservoir” was originally published in Emerge Literary Journal, Issue Three.
Image: “The thing About Being Alive” by Robin Richardson.