Risa Denenberg

On leaving the barn door open

In 1994, when Leonard Cohen danced me to the end
then split
and holed up for six years
on Mount Baldy, afraid of losing nothing,
which he never found,

I missed him as sorely as I missed my son,
kidnapped from my arms, the women who’ve left me loveless,
J’s amethyst ring lost on a Greyhound bus.

I've compressed my losses
by leaning on imagery and verse,
by my own version of hermitude,
by renouncing ordinary eros.

It's the slight headache, the worry
I've lived the wrong life, the fear
of not being able to fill my days with thoughts
the fear of not being able to stop thoughts
the thought itself, like a scalpel

carving into white matter saying,
This here is an irreversible mistake.
There will be no do-overs.

I'll limp through two more
decades with no conjugation
of any sort.

Risa Denenberg is an aging hippie poet currently living in the Pacific Northwest. She earns her keep as a nurse practitioner. Along with Mary Meriam, she is a mistress at Headmistress Press, dedicated to publishing lesbian poetry. She has two chapbooks, what we owe each other (The Lives You Touch Publications, 2013) and Blinded by Clouds (forthcoming, Hyacinth Girls Press) and a full-length book, Mean Distance from the Sun (Aldrich Press, 2013).