all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Monday, July 21, 2008

orange towels


















Maybe they’re too bright, not thick enough, a little on the cheap
side. But now, in the heart of summer, it’s not just the weather
that’s changed. Walking down the Target aisles, I keep
thinking about the house we lived in, the way we moved together
in the kitchen, in the yard, at night in bed. That day you brought
home the blue bath towels from Pottery Barn and I gulped at the price.
How we quarreled about the espresso machine, whether we ought
to get the really good one, or if a less chic version would suffice.

Later, we’d labor over the bureau, the rugs, even cheese and coffee,
and eventually, I learned to bite my tongue, accept the cost
of a life created by two instead of one. But something in me
balked and staggered, wanting something of simplicity, feeling lost
among the wealth of objects we accumulated. But this is not a poem
about haggling or household goods, because strolling down
the long, wide acreage of the store, I do feel a wash of wistfulness for the home
we made, took care of, loved and leaned into for comfort. And yet now,
unabridged, my eyes wander cartoonishly, carelessly, then land on an upper shelf
where a line of orange towels lie primped and plump, and the price
is right, and I’m no longer needful of sanction or approval if it’s just myself,
fresh from a shower, dripping on the bathroom rug. So I don’t think twice
about the purchase, and heave the towels into a bulging cartful of
things you would probably not approve of, and something in this act of defiance
reminds me of the ways you might have held yourself back too, the love
you gave in spite of yourself, how much you kept quiet to keep my alliance.

Are you feeling any freer now? Are you cleaving from our knitted past?
Are you grabbing back your life at last?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

th way you say things...

-g

Anonymous said...

And isn't it odd that "cleave" can have two such adverse meanings?!

-g

Schmutzie said...

You are being featured on Five Star Friday:
http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2008/07/five-star-friday-edition-16.html

Di Mackey said...

Beautiful images ...

I love this one too.

GailNHB said...

I really like this piece. This recollection of holding back and giving in. Of choosing for yourself. Of wondering about the life of the one that is no longer sharing your towels. Very well done - as always.