Anne-Marie Levine

First Wife

He asked me so I said I would
He asked would I go through his dying with him
and I said yes, I said yes because what else could I say,
How could I say no

Afterwards I woke up crying every night
in the middle of the night and Bill,
Bill would hold me, wordlessly, there were never any words,
but I was crying for the parents,
I was imagining their grief and I took on their grief
and I thought I cried only for them

He asked would I go through it with him and I said yes
for me it was not so bad it was terrible
I lived through his death as my own so I knew
what it was I knew it long before it would happen
to me I was only forty I figured now I knew

He called once would I come
and I went to the hospital and in the elvator
I met his wife and Why don’t you go home she said
and I said I would go once he knew that I had come
When we met in his room he played us off
one against the other, not the least bit embarrassed
he was tickled silly to have us both there

When he died he was out of his mind, he was drugged
he was not unhappy he was listening to Mozart,
the violin/piano sonatas played by Szymon Goldberg
and Lili Kraus, and he was pointing to a square of
paranoia on a spot opposite the bed, a spot where two walls met

It scared me to see him that way so I cried
but my crying scared the others so I left
If he had been clear-headed I could have stayed longer

He asked me to go there with him and I said yes
If he had been clear-headed I could have gone farther
I went as far as I could