Wednesday

Jan. 2, 2008

I Love the Way Men Crack

by Ellen Bass

I love the way men crack
open when their wives leave them,
their sheaths curling back like the split
shells of roasted chestnuts, exposing
the sweet creamy meat. They call you
and unburden their hearts the way a woman
takes off her jewels, the heavy
pendant earrings, the stiff lace gown and corset,
and slips into a loose kimono.
It's like you've both had a couple shots
of really good scotch and snow is falling
in the cone of light under the street lamp—
large slow flakes that float down in the amber glow.

They tell you all the pain pressed into their flat chests,
their disappointed penises, their empty hands.
As they sift through the betrayals and regrets,
their shocked realization of how hard they tried,
the way they shouldered the yoke
with such stupid good faith—
they grow younger and younger. They cry
with the unselfconciousness of children.
When they hug you, they cling.
Like someone who's needed glasses for a long time—
and finally got them-they look around
just for the pleasure of it: the detail,
the sharp edges of what the world has to offer.

And when they fall in love again, it only gets better.
Their hearts are stuffed full as éclairs
and the custard oozes out at a touch.
They love her, they love you, they love everyone.
They drag out all the musty sorrows and joys
from the basement where they've been shoved
with mitts and coin collections. They tell you
things they've never told anyone.
Fresh from loving her, they come glowing
like souls slipping into the bodies
of babies about to be born.

Then a year goes by. Or two.
Like broken bones, they knit back together.
They grow like grass and bushes and trees
after a forest fire, covering the seared earth.
They landscape the whole thing, plant like mad
and spend every weekend watering and weeding.

"I Love the Way Men Crack" by Ellen Bass, from Mules of Love, Vol. 1. © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2002. Reprinted with permission.(buy now)

It was on this day in 1897 that the author Stephen Crane (books by this author) (1871) survived the sinking of a boat headed for Cuba and he wrote about the experience in his short story "The Open Boat" (1898), which was one of the first works of fiction based on actual reportage.

It's the birthday of Isaac Asimov, (books by this author) born in Petrovichi, Russia (1920), who started a book whenever he wanted to learn about a topic that he didn't fully understand, and so he published books about outer space, nuclear physics, organic chemistry, history, astronomy, Greek mythology, and religion.

It's the birthday of war novelist Leonard B. Scott, (books by this author) born in Bremerhaven, Germany (1948), who was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star in Vietnam. He was working a desk job at the Pentagon in Washington in the early '80s, when he heard the opening ceremonies of the Vietnam Memorial on the Mall, and said, "The dam just broke. Seeing my old comrades squelched my fears of attempting to write; I had to tell our story of the war and how it really was." His books include Charlie Mike (1985), The Last Run (1987), and The Hill (1989).

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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