Sort, like an abacus,
your broken pearls
from her ruined shells.
It’s so hard to tell them apart.
Place into manageable piles
his inherited contradictions
and her inherent unease,
the things that kept you,
for all of your young years,
suspended in a hammock
of distress, swinging
between their trees.
Divide the pros of his leaving
by the cons of his staying,
never forgetting the ratio
of abandonment to desertion,
or the infinite amount of peace
brought on by his absence.
Still, worry touches everything.
But there is no universal formula,
no Order of Operations to apply here,
working left to right, brackets
for stability. No safe equation
to reason out the family data.
Subtract the years she was vacant,
barely breathing, from the ones
you forfeited trying to revive
the wrong body.
© Barb Reynolds
Published in POEM Journal, June 2019
This poem may not be reproduced without the author's permission.