By request, Elizabeth Vignali shares her poem “Object Permanence” the title piece of her debut poetry book set to release November 2014. Below the post, please click the link to hear Vignali read one of her poems for a local community radio program I produce called “Poetic Moments”. ~Shannon
My hands don’t wash kiwi fruit; they bathe you
when you were a few weeks old.
You had this same sparse hair
defying gravity over a taut scalp.
My thumb flattens a path of bristles
that spring up again as they dry.
I rubbed water over your fragile skull,
wiped it away from your forehead, away from the eyes
open wide. Your hairs rose as they dried, lifting
in praise of warmth.
Infants haven’t learned constancy—
this is why they delight in peek-a-boo,
a beloved face appearing again and again.
They do not mourn the absence.
They do not mourn.
Children comprehend permanence by one year.
We spend the rest of our lives trying to forget,
brush little grains of worry in our palms
and pocket them: bills, calories,
the permanence of death. We meditate, we drink,
we fight to remember what presence felt like.
You come to me with a wilted fistful of tulips,
yellow petals waxy and sullen. I try to explain the benefit
of leaving flowers unpicked. Enjoy them and then leave them
for others to enjoy, I say. Don’t hang on to them so tight.
Experience them, then let them go.
I long to have you a baby again, to love you
despite your pink insistence, your curled
shrimp fists, your incessant keen.
I’d bring you my breasts filled with milk.
I’d hold you until my arms fell asleep.