I Wish It Were Enough to Be–– + The Saddest Thing

Fay Dillof

I Wish It Were Enough to Be––

the word that comes to mind is ducklike––
go about saying nothing but thank, thank, thank

you to the flowers in the tall grasses.
There’s little to say about the body 

in pain. Little, in fact, when sickness eclipses, 
about anything at all. Everyone else––

my husband and daughter, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece––
are searching for sea glass, skipping stones, 

while back at the house, a whirligig spinning, I’m lying in bed, thinking
about this morning when I went into the biting sea, the shock 

intensified me right into existence,
while now––I’m so sick

of being sick––and boom––like yesterday’s lightening-less thunder,
I’m not really here in the dark.

If only what’s happening to me
were like that cattail out the window,

soft as childhood sadness, 
catching the light. 

Or, how earlier––the small gray rocks along the shore,
as I approached, became birds.

The Saddest Thing

She’s in the kitchen, drinking coffee––
instant––my baby, now fifteen.

Leave me alone! I’m not ready! 
my grandmother, our family’s only other

instant coffee drinker (one cup with sugar 
and cream, before sleep) used to shout 

in bed each night to her dead husband.  
I wrote that description 

thirty years back. Your story fails,
the teacher had said, to convey why losing a grandmother 

is not just but the natural order of things.
As if the natural order of things 

un-bewilders grief? 
The saddest thing that’s ever happened, 

my daughter insists now––meaning 
the dryer-shrunk condition of the beanie 

she pinched from her dad. 
She loves her father and me equally.

And her father more.  
Is it wrong 

I always carried her strapped in the ErgoPack, 
facing me?

If I calibrate how long and when 
I’m allowed to put everything down, 

the answer, Never
Drive across that bridge 

of self-disdain, I instruct myself, 
imagining a tollbooth 

and, beyond it, a slip of sky.

Fay Dillof’s poetry has appeared in Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, Spillway, FIELD, Rattle, New Ohio Review, Green Mountains Review, Barrow Street, and elsewhere. Fay has been awarded the Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry and the Dogwood Literary Prize in Poetry, and has received a John Ciardi Scholarship in Poetry at Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, a Claudia Emerson Scholarship in poetry at Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a grant from Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, and an Anne Bastille Residency at Adirondacks Center for Writing. She lives with her husband and daughter in Northern California where she works as a psychotherapist.

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