The Stronger

Sandra Lim

With me, life becomes sweeter,
so she loses some of
the ability to defend herself.
Yet even this gives her a forlorn
sense of satisfaction.
I know it by the distracted
half-smile on her face.
People believe love
can do so much! As when
they talk incessantly
about the weather:
they sound as if they’re waiting
for something incredible
to come their way.
Nestled against me,
isn’t she a moron of joy.
She loves to tell stories
because they’re already finished
by the start of the telling.
Her favorites are driven by longing;
she reads and reads, fear rising.
But it often appears to me as if
she’s taking elaborate pains
to hurt herself more accurately.
Deep in my heart, these things
just don’t interest me:
the indiscriminate effects
of time. How the worst can happen.
So many things will lie
unrealized, that’s the math.
The way she links things together
only brings out the violence.
Some of our perfect nights
you can’t put into words.
And certain kinds
of defeat, they just keep you
talking through your hat.

Sandra Lim is the author of The Wilderness and Loveliest Grotesque. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Originally published:
January 1, 2020

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