Not pushing a rock—
like my husband, of erstwhile fame, Sisyphus,
I had been pulling him—a dead night-weight
on my chest—pulling the way sailors heave
up a three-thousand-pound mast so my fingers
had permanent rope-burn—pulling him to be
father, lover, other than selfobsessed
in his colossal task.
He would never rest. Always pushing
that stone, he became a stone. Sometimes
he called it the mind meditating; other times
he called it the weight of the world’s tears
and he—only he—could blot them dry.
Little did I know he drank those tears—thrived on them.
So when I stopped crying, he stopped lifting me.
Then my work began of pulling—my son put to work—we both
began yanking—dragging—luring his father away from that
anonymous ball of grief—my son pulling with chess pieces—
a baseball—his own monkey antics. I with lower-cut dresses. We yanked.
We tugged. We strained. We lugged till our hearts
beat into our lungs a Siren song. But we only saw
the back of his neck—the bristled head pushing out the door
pushing the air-like-granite pushing, finally, into another
woman—heaving her up the hill of his might
as we stayed below, encamped where his feet had been,
puling (puking into a pail) though by now his ears are stoppered.
So what could we do but let the line go—stop tugging at his back.
Our arms and legs muscle-bound. Our faces, for once,
out of his shadow have turned toward the unobstructed sun
and each other, the burden of his gravity lifted, we are beginning
Sharon Dolin is a Writer-in-Residence at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts and the author of, most recently, Burn and Dodge (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008).