TWO OR MORE STORIES: A SPLIT GAZAL
I drive the kids to preschool past two snow-covered tennis courts.
Sometimes, there are people at the bus stop, the cue split in two:
those who seem fine, those who might be from a halfway house
near here. They gesture and mutter, as though they’re split in two
different people, each half arguing with the other. I see your brother,
once the regions’s best tennis player until the year when he split in two,
though that’s a dated and simplified explanation, you once told me.
It took years for diagnosis and wasn’t as simple as being split in two—
the older brother you adored and the one you feared. The strain
may have caused your mother’s early stroke which split her in two,
the taut coil of woman who snapped and yelled and her dual self
who unravelled and cracked with sexual innuendo. Split in two,
just like I am—she and I share a birthday, born under the sign of twins.
You and I broke up, the phrase implying more than being split in two—
rather, space between the shards of life lived, the one longed for.
In two years, I would marry and two after that I would be split in two
by the birth of my first child, his labour straddling two days before
he opened me as light bled into the dawn of my birthday, split in two,
now mine and his. Childbirth tore me open but I’m beyond broken,
more a puzzle with so many pieces that I simply can’t be split in two.
I was with my husband and kids on the ski hill, when I remembered
a run with you, and there you were, in the present, past split in two:
the one that ended, the one that carried on down parallel courses.
You were with your brother and his wide grin split his face in two.
It was winter and we were insulated in down, flanked by family,
but part of me was back in that summer, under a tree, split in two.
The third person was always me, the poet. I just want to feel the joy
of playing the ball so the net that splits the court in two disappears.
From Pluck (Nightwood, 2014) by Laisha Rosnau