by Marty McConnell
“leaving is not enough; you must
stay gone. train your heart
like a dog. change the locks
even on the house he’s never
visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
you have an apartment
just your size. a bathtub
full of tea. a heart the size
of Arizona, but not nearly
so arid. don’t wish away
your cracked past, your
crooked toes, your problems
are papier mache puppets
you made or bought because the vendor
at the market was so compelling you just
had to have them. you had to have him.
and you did. and now you pull down
the bridge between your houses,
you make him call before
he visits, you take a lover
for granted, you take
a lover who looks at you
like maybe you are magic. make
the first bottle you consume
in this place a relic. place it
on whatever altar you fashion
with a knife and five cranberries.
don’t lose too much weight.
stupid girls are always trying
to disappear as revenge. and you
are not stupid. you loved a man
with more hands than a parade
of beggars, and here you stand. heart
like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
heart leaking something so strong
they can smell it in the street.”
McConnell is a contemporary poet who, in this work, imagines receiving relationship advice from the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who, as we know, faced her own set of romantic upheavals—she counted Diego Rivera, Isamu Noguchi, and Josephine Baker among her lovers. But despite the specificity of its title, this poem could just as well have been written for any woman who has ever left a relationship behind in order to open herself up to better, truer possibilities. A good reminder to us all—whether we’re years beyond our last break-up, or still freshly reeling.
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