Poem Therapy 2:34 27 September 2012: I Had Just Hung Up from Talking to You - Jessica Greenbuam

Jessica Greenbaum
I had just hung up from talking to you
and we had been so immersed in the difficulty
you were facing, and forgive me,
I was thinking that as long as we kept talking,
you in your car in the parking lot of the boys’ school
as the afternoon deepened into early evening,
and me in the study, all the books around
that had been sources of beauty to us,
as long as we stayed in the conversation
padded with history like the floor of the pine forest,
as long as I thought out loud, made a joke
at my own expense, you would be harbored in that exchange,
but the boys were leaving the track
and after we hung up I looked out the window
to see the top of the bare January trees spotlit to silvery red,
massive but made from the thinnest
twigs at the ends of the branches at the ends of the limbs
they were waving and shining in a light
like no other and left only to them.

Listening is important.

For the past few months, I have been paying someone to listen to me talk about the frayed edges of my life. I've had the impulse to apologize for talking about myself so much, but then remember that is the point. I spend a lot of the time there laughing. He laughs too. Otherwise, it would just be uncomfortable.

I know I couldn't do his job. I wonder how he deals with the litany of woe, real and imagined, his clients bring him every day.
It's very hard for me to listen and not act. I have to fight the impulse to enter the story, fix things, lay the enemy of my friend down, set the problem aright. Sometimes, I lose that fight.
When my husband had his first heart attack, I was certain I could keep him alive by cooking clean and getting him to exercise. After a few months, turkey bacon was the straw that broke the camel's back, and he complained that life wasn't worth living if he had to eat like this. It took me a very long time to figure out that his health was his business.
What I know for sure is that the only life I have authority over is my own. The only life I can save is my own.
I only have this one, and precious life.
So do you.

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