I need to know

Maggie Winkler


I need to know
The way in which we
Forgive ourselves
For the things
We did not say.


We can blame the youth,
That fifteen-year-old rage
Or everything he had done before.
All of the leaving
And him being all I had left.


The anger in finding him on the floor
Still drunk from the night before
And not having come home.
Another night of climbing into bed
With no one there to tuck me in.


I can’t blame myself for not letting him
Hug me, knowing full well
He’d smell of cigarettes and
Vodka tonics but not knowing
It would be my last chance.


I can’t even blame myself for leaving
without saying goodbye
With not so much as even
A knock on the bathroom door
To let him know I was going.


To think of him exiting the shower
On the last morning he would do so
And wrapping himself in his fluffy robe
Still dripping water all through the apartment
Only to find me gone.


We’ll call it a premonition,
That unexplained sinking feeling,
The way in which we sometimes
Know that something is wrong
Even before it goes wrong.


I need to know the way
In which we stop carrying
The words we did not say.
It is tucked under my tongue,
Even all these years later.


So when I say that I blame myself,
I mean that during my last period
Of the day, I thought to text him.
Went so far as to open his contact
And type the message out


To apologize for that morning,
And tell him I’d see him later.
When I say I blame myself
I mean that if I had,
Maybe he would’ve come home.


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