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What’s Broken by Dorianne Laux

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MARGINALIA • SKIP TO THE POEM

1.
I used to tell him I’m broken. It comes out of my mouth every once in awhile, like water bubbling upwards in the sink when the drain is clogged. He tells me it hurts, cuts him deeply, hearing me say it. I’ve worked hard on trying to unlearn it, the idea that I am beyond repair. The past two weeks though I feel like I’m back there again.

2.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told: think happy thoughts. As if it will solve everything. As if thinking happy translates to being happy. I’ve thought of dogs licking my face, of cheesecake and singing at the top of my lungs with the window open, of laughing so hard I fall off my chair, of being told I am loved, of being held. But the days remain dark. Do you know what I mean?

3.
I get these really bad headaches and I’m hungry all the time. Sometimes I sleep all day. Sometimes I don’t sleep at all. How long before it ends, I asked the moon one night. She never answers.

4.
Not broken not broken not broken, I chant to myself for hours on end before forcing myself to roll out of bed. I try to hold myself together the way I try to grab a fistful of water.

What’s Broken
Dorianne Laux

The slate black sky. The middle step
of the back porch. And long ago

my mother’s necklace, the beads
rolling north and south. Broken

the rose stem, water into drops, glass
knobs on the bedroom door. Last summer’s

pot of parsley and mint, white roots
shooting like streamers through the cracks.

Years ago the cat’s tail, the bird bath,
the car hood’s rusted latch. Broken

little finger on my right hand at birth—
I was pulled out too fast. What hasn’t

been rent, divided, split? Broken
the days into nights, the night sky

into stars, the stars into patterns
I make up as I trace them

with a broken-off blade
of grass. Possible, unthinkable,

the cricket’s tiny back as I lie
on the lawn in the dark, my heart

a blue cup fallen from someone’s hands.

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This poem appeared in Facts About The Moon by Dorianne Laux, published by W.W. Norton and Company, 2007. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Dorianne LauxFind books by this poet • Or view my library 

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