C.L. Bledsoe

Iceland

You look up ticket prices
for Iceland because she said
it was full of people who look
like her—she never felt so at home,
but when the screen comes up,
you feel so pathetic, you go to bed
and watch movies you don’t like
because you didn’t watch them
with her. You are a stupid animal,
all nose and clatter on quiet floors.
There’s a paper sack with the last
of her clothes on your dresser. She’s
not coming back for them. If anyone
asked, you’d explain that you
keep forgetting to take them
to Goodwill. Don’t conflate executive
function disorder with loneliness.
You’ve never put your nose to them.
Never tried to stretch them over
a pillow to feel her beside you.
There were stories all over social
media, about the Mars Rover singing
to itself on its birthday, about its lights
going off as it ran out of power,
and then, weeks later, when it woke,
no one seemed to care anymore. You
can’t stop yourself from crying,
and if anyone asked, you’d say
it wasn’t because you thought of
yourself as that machine. People
are allowed to feel things and not
be able to express them. They named
Iceland to keep settlers away, in contrast
to Greenland. Both are lies. The last
person you asked on a date got mad,
so you apologized. And then she
apologized. All the women you’ve dated
since you divorced asked you out.
A woman you’ve been seeing, off
and on, is moving across country to live
with her ex. They aren’t getting back
together. It’s a bad idea, but you don’t
want her to move here. The farthest
you’ve ever been is northern Canada,
with a woman whose name you can’t
even remember. She sent you flowers
on your birthday. You’ve got the card
and her letters in a box in the closet.
It wasn’t really that cold. You keep busy.
In Iceland, they work too much, too,
but not as much as here. In the mornings,
you keep finding the door unlocked.
She never returned your key. You don’t
sleep, though, and would hear if anyone
came in. The problem was she couldn’t talk
about her feelings without going
for the throat. That’s always the problem.
Shoving everything down until it
explodes. People are allowed to feel
things without being able to explain
them. If you’d been able to focus better,
maybe you could’ve fixed it. You don’t
even like to travel, really. The woman
who’s moving, you want to tell her
you envy her. It’s a mistake, but
sometimes making a mistake is better
than being safe for too long.

C.L. Bledsoe’s latest poetry collection is Trashcans in Love. His latest novel is The Funny Thing About… He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter and blogs, with Michael Gushue, at https://medium.com/@howtoeven