To Go Too Far
for John Updike
by Kevin Grijalva

I’ve been left with an impression
that hope has been trying to maneuver
us into something we don’t understand.
The minute between capital and lower
case has frozen, become a polar cluster
slowly whirling to the zenith
of an armageddon.

The mistresses have been forced from their hotels
thanks to the relocation program and now you
get satisfied on the jungle gym. Rosie
by any other name has transmuted
to a dried ring of phlegm and alcohol
while fatigue has grown into a woolly mammoth
passed out in the middle of Wall Street.
Can’t we run the air for a moment?

It was sad to think of all of you going without
a lover, since we’re often some lanky
spayed golden-eyed mutt nuzzling at the hand
because we’re in love with the smell
of love but strain to add our warmth
to the tumble — it was sad because all the pressing
to secure our drowsy bodies against yours
end up sinking in your obliviousness.

Inevitably you love the father.
We hate him for his impersonations:
night watchman (the flickering nightlight builds
shadows trying to woo us with open-
mouthed passion); scoutmaster (the apex
of utility reached with buttering toast); playmate
(the moment he learned to spread himself
into the air); confidant (our spaghetti keeps
slipping through the colander).

Must we fight for space on your lap?
Flushed and slow-tongued, I think we’d rather
take a nap, the gesture of sleep becoming infinite
as a bed spread cascading to the floor.

You left the air on all night again
and awoke with a cold, telling
us to pick up the tissues and burn
them with the bills unless we want
our allowance stuffed in trunks
like last week’s. Pinioned into its
machinations, the house outgrows
its lot at the speed of our broken feet.

Miles pass mise en abyme, back
walking towards the front, the net of gauze
soaked through with dried blood and
alcohol trying to dry blood.

Miles pass, missing in absence reflected
when your lover calls and you can’t
come to the phone. The mother, beat-up
housewife playing tired tennis with tired ladies,
tusks through the enormous rooms
and finds us buried in wool — the funeral was
held together by the impressions
left by the fossils of love and boredom.

Kevin Grijalva is a Southern Californian poet with a B.A. in English from Boston University. Kevin currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. His work has appeared in The Catalonian Review and Anastomoo.