The 2River View  

Anne Whitehouse Listen

Curse VIII.

A collision in the park
between two runners—
I didn’t observe it but heard the cry
and turned and saw a man on his side
not moving on the pavement,
and a woman standing not close but nearby, 
watching him without approaching.

Clutching his elbow,
he screamed at her to go away
while she refused,
her hands folded across her chest,
her back bent like a question mark.

Some people stopped
and some kept walking.
Suddenly he wailed like an animal in pain;
twisting on his back, he kicked the air,
writhing while he cursed her.
She remained where she was
not leaving or coming closer.

Two teenaged girls exchanged looks
and hurried past;
an older man stepped up
with a cellphone,
but there was an ambulance
parked on the Drive.

The fallen man let loose
one more scream
and spread his arms wide
while medics lifted him
on a stretcher and evacuated him.
Not until he was gone
did she walk away.


Curse XXIV.

Oh, for the potent substance
that could heal me from affliction!
Criticized, I brood and suffer.
I turn on myself
and eat out my heart.

From my window I watch
a tiny silver helicopter,
like an ornament or a toy,
heading south
in a blue-and-white sky.

Whirling gusts pluck
the last leaves from the trees.
My mind babbles;
I am plagued by thoughts.
How to extract the quiet self,

the one that doesn’t speak,
but writes?  Where fidelity
and honesty are one?
Say of me, I listened.
Say of me, I tried to understand.

Yet I made it harder than it had to be,
afraid of attention,
unwilling to permit mistakes.
When laughter could have helped,
I wouldn’t let it.

Let these curses dry up,
light as leaves, and blow away.
The struggles are unending.
They are life itself.
They have my attention.