“An un-love poem isn’t a poem of hate, exactly — that might be a bit too shrill or boring. It’s more like a poem of sarcastic dislike. “
The Ways I Do Not Love You
I do not want to count the ways I do not love you.
To do so casts me too solidly in your image
without your excuses
for doing what you did:
that you were crazy-jealous,
crazy-in love, crazy-in rejection,
I had always wanted to be loved to distraction,
but being loved to craziness is another thing:
your deep truck tracks carving artless Nazca lines
into the fresh sod of my yard,
the new mailbox snapped off at its base,
the queries from strangers who had met you in a bar
and heard all of the intimate details
of your insane version of our love affair.
The letters to every member of the school board,
every administrator in the district, every lawyer,
every preacher in our town of 50,000,
telling of the wild schoolteacher
and outing her gay friends.
I do not want to count the ways
you proved the heartbreak
of your love for me,
those ways that now delineate
the ways I do not love you.
I do not even love the memory of you
at Vedauwoo, standing on the monolithic rock,
your sun-shy son crouched in its shade.
I do not love the memory
of driving to Jackson Hole,
the twelve-foot-high banks of snow
on either side of the highway
that made it impossible to slide off the road.
The dark, split by our headlights,
pixelated by the mesmerizing onslaught of snow;
and suddenly, the miraculous glimpse of the giant elk
arcing from the left hand snow mass, high above us, over to the bank on the other side,
leaving us spellbound and mute,
as though this was a miracle
neither of us had the words to describe.
What are you, about 21? You asked
that first night at the Ramada.
The music was starting
and I thought you were there to ask me for a dance.
When I answered 26, you smiled that crooked smile
and walked away.
That unpredictable mystery of you
was what kept me intrigued.
I never could stand the ordinary.
Not that I love the memory of this.
And not that I know how long the list would be
of why I do not love you any more.
My mind wanders through the memory of you
like a lazy woman picking chocolates:
testing one and discarding it.
perhaps it is the brand of chocolates
that does not suit.
Oh, my once-darling,
I despise the thought of you.
Even these intrusive memories
cannot win me back.
You told me once, “Babe, you are so good
that you don’t even realize your powers.”
You’d lost your job and most of your friends
and blamed it all on me.
Even your friends had chosen my side, you said,
blaming me when I didn’t even know there was a game,
let alone its rules or its consequences.
I do not want to number all the ways
I do not love you anymore.
Suffice it to say that once over,
love might as well have never been.
Like a snowflake on a sun-warmed sidewalk,
there is no evidence
of its ever having existed.
Better to exhaust one’s efforts on a new love,
for there is no way to list the ways you do not love.
No way to bring to light now that list
that you have never written.
That list that you keep hidden
in the back of your heart
with all of your life’s other