ALL THIS LOVE
by Jared Pearce               Computer ChessI keep clicking undo
to trace my losing
streak, to find outall my mistakes.
If I go another way,
if I had allowed my brotherto tag along more often,
or if I had not lied to my friends
to protect my embarrassment,or if I had been more subtle
or more striking, would the children
be happy then?  And with her,what could I have done
better to love?  I’m not sure
I can find my way past those bishopsof self-deceit or the surprising leap
from revelatory knights
to hold that Queenso she’ll see me and want me.
I’m always back at the game’s beginning,
fretting over the pawns of dietand so many hours slept, holding
dear to my rooks for the endgame—
the end that comes no matterhow far back I go or how
much I can erase of where
I started or how I got here.
              All this LoveShe’s working to remove the grass,
the grass I’ve worked to grow and green,
the welcome mat I’m holding out
to God, she wants turfed for flowers,a giant stone, and when I arrive I see
her cutting the yard into patches, rubbing
her sore wrist from mining the clover.
She hopes I’m not angry becauseshe loves me, she says, she wants me
to rip my lawn in half, she wants a thousand
hours of care sacrificed at her delphinium
altar, she’s willing to wait two hoursfor me to finish knifing my weekend bits
to a rubbish pile.  It takes me a little
longer because I’ve got to pick the grubs
out the roots and feed them to the robins.
               CuttingOne would have her leg
hacked, another an arm—
such appendages seem easy
to divide.  But others went
for fashion: buttocks
and trim the thighs, or my head
must be ten percent my body
mass.  And some for bits to cheat
loss by removing every other toe,
one ear, the incisors, hair.Until she said her
too big breasts, worthless
lobes, too in-the-way,
too defining, the two great balls
chaining me to womanhood,
making me a sex—these stones
strapping me in a drowning
when what I want is to be held
with a light grace, apart
from what I am or am not.
               Dad’s Staying at My Home (1)Before breakfast I’m listening beside the curtains:
Birds, I say, out at the feeder; a couple, maybe.
Quite a few, Dad says.  He pours milk
on his porridge and in a bite halves his toast.He has explained he knew, when my aunt died,
that he could pull her back from beyond the veil
drawn over her irrevocable blue eyes,
but he also knew God had stopped him cold.I don’t remember if I told him I had a vision—
if it had mattered that I had seen the face of God,
that at one point I, too, had touched back
my mind’s drapery and counted every sparrow.
               Dad’s Staying at My Home (3)When he slips between rooms, he tips
on the light switch, does what he sees
he had wanted, and then leaves, the room
blazing like seventh heaven through the winter.As a youth I was vigilant to keep those
unused lights dead—Dad had economized
the California darkness, pared-down
my wasteful flicks, until I was a Tarzanswinging from circuit to circuit.  Now I tread
on the light he wings sparking the house
with electric bolts.  Look up, boy, he says,
and the miniature angels burrow into my brains.        About the Author:Jared PearceJared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Aji, Wilderness House, Triggerfish, Valley Voices, and Your Impossible Voice. The Annotated Murder of One, his first collection, was released from Aubade Press last year (www.aubadepublishing.com/annotated-murder-of-one).

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