Before I walked down the aisle,
my almost-stepson asked, What do we do now?
I thought he meant life after marriage,
so I meant it when I said I don’t know.
And I meant it when I stood at the green edge
of the woods with his father saying
you’re scaring me and I’ve nothing left to give.
I meant it when the boy and I danced in the kitchen
making PB & Js. It made us feel a little
better for a little while. I meant it
when I lifted his toddling brother on my shoulders
so we could watch him ride the Tilt-A-Whirl
and bottleneck a metal ring to win
one of the orange fish that eyed me
through the plastic blister of its prison.
Finally leaving them was like that ride
at the fair: my back was against the wall,
the floor dropped out, my stomach gone.
After that, the ground wasn’t ground anymore—
I was walking on atmosphere, forgetting
all my fundamentals, that gravity
forces form and shape, that orbits
must evolve, that if two bodies
are attracted to each other, one of them must fall.
I said goodbye to the boys’
boyless rooms and the stuffed animals
blinked their plastic eyes,
folded their muppet arms.
The towel shaped like a monkey
bowed its flimsy head, the ghost
of a child still dampening its matted chest.
I’m sorry, I said to the towel.
I’m sorry, I said to the monster
their mother had knit in blue yarn.
I’m so sorry, I said to the cat
who sounded his soundless mew,
leapt from the bed, and skulked
out of the room. I turned off the lights.
Years passed. Then I was this woman
writing I’m sorry, I’m so sorry
until it meant nothing, and someone else
came to carry me to bed.
Jenny Molberg's debut collection, Marvels of the Invisible, won the 2014 Berkshire Prize and was recently released with Tupelo Press. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, Poetry International, North American Review, Copper Nickel, Best New Poets, and other publication. She currently teaches at the University of Central Missouri and is Co-editor of Pleiades.