Category: Michael Ryan

Prothalamion by Michael Ryan

The love we’ve define for ourselves
in privacy, in suffering,
keeps both of us lonely as a fist,
but does intimacy mean a happy ending?
I’m afraid of marriage.
Driving past them at night, the shadows
on a drawn curtain hide terrible lives:
a father stuck in a job, his daughter
opening her blouse to strangers.

And your hands, for example,
like a warm liquid on my face
don’t evaporate as you take them away.
Nor are our betrayals silent,
although we listen only in passing.
We’re learning how to walk unlit streets,
to see threats instead of trees,
the right answer to a teenager
opening his knife. The answer is yes.
Always we couldn’t do otherwise.

—Michael Ryan

Pastoral by Michael Ryan

The trees bending in the wind like inflections
in our discussion of love, that window

lifting her underclothes to show how lonely
she has been, and you do address her

if only to say yes we are very different
my husband is so gentle these evenings,

as through the window above our headboard
the animals wash each other for sleep,

the dead ones entering their gestures
and our discussion of love only as inflections

like trees bending in the wind.

—Michael Ryan

The Past by Michael Ryan

It shows up one summer in the greatcoat,
storms through the house confiscating,
says it must be paid and quickly,
says it must take everything.

Your children stare into their cornflakes,
your wife whispers only wants to stop it,
because she loves you and she sees it
darken the room suddenly like a stain.

What did you do to deserve it,
ruining breakfast on a balmy day?
Kiss your loved ones. Night is coming.
There was no life without it anyway.

—Michael Ryan