Poem: Ground Zero

Loss teaches you so many things. It puts you right at “ground zero.” Having to let go of someone you used to love, or still love. Having to make yourself hope for something better, for you and also for them, without really knowing what’s in store. It’s a matter of survival.

So often we see ourselves having to simply take that leap of faith – believing that lush summer must be somewhere down the stark road we’ve chosen to take, or been forced to take. Be it with a lover, or family member, or friend, there’s always an end to what you both knew. There’s moving out, there’s moving on, there’s critical trouble somehow, there’s old age. As Freddy sang, “The show must go on,” and it did for Queen without him – but the luster was gone, I’d say.

We are not Queen, and we must find the luster again, somehow. It’s with that in mind that I wrote this poem sometime ago. It was specifically about a dying romantic relationship. But I think the familiarity and comfort-related elements could apply to any close relationship winding down – for whatever final and irrevocable reason. Whatever we told ourselves, we’d always known it would happen somehow, as loss is the only certainty in life. But it was much better not to think of it.

However many times we’ve said the word “eternal,” we’ve known, deep inside, that the only “eternal” thing is doubt, but also possibility. We must ride it out.

Have I ever used so many cliches in one post? Probably not. But for the past few years, every time I’m being (purposely) emotional, I feel like I’m being clichey. I can’t write any greeting cards anymore without feeling like I’m being trite and therefore taking basically no pleasure in the activity. There’s nothing emotional that hasn’t been said before. So please bear with me. I actually like this poem I wrote…

Ground Zero

It’s so strange to be
at ground zero once again —

to crumble,
then build back up
on mere hopes
the next foundation will last.

Strange, indeed, to have to handle
the new bricks with so much care,
when we’d gotten so used to exploding
over small things
in the end.

My new facade must be calm,
I must paint myself as patient,

must wave my ego out the window
for possible punches
from a beautiful stranger.

I must piece together puzzling looks,
second-guess myself once again,
when with you, I knew almost
what every gesture meant.

I must blow-dry my hair,
check my mouth for missing make-up,
find the right little dress to wear–

hide the cracks
with decorations.

With you, I could spend the whole day
wearing old, oversized sweats,

could whisper my love into your ear,
with bad morning breath,

and never have to wonder
if you’d call me after that.

© Ana Beatriz Ribeiro

A Global Studies doctoral degree holder and former newspaper reporter, avid eater, pseudo-philosopher and poet, occasion-propelled singer, semi-professional socializer, movie addict, Brazilian-American nomad. In this space, she will share some of her experiences and (mis)adventures regarding various topics, with special attention to social issues.

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