Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Poem: 'What A Liar I Am' by Maria Gillan

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

I have been lying for a long time now,
the sicker you get the more I lie to myself most of all.
I cannot say how angry I am that this illness is another person in our house,
so lies are the only way to get through each day. How hard it is

to admit that I am often impatient and raging and that anger is a
pit I can never swallow, that love, even mine for you who have
been with me for forty years, cannot dissolve
the hank of loneliness that has become lodged

in my throat, the irritating squeaking of your electric
wheelchair, the way I want to run away from the putrid smell
the medicines make rising from your skin, the way
I lie and lie so you won’t know how heavy this illness

feels—how long it has been going on, sixteen years now—and
the way your feet dragging along the carpet when you can still walk
is like a fingernail on a blackboard. This is all too much
for you, you say and I reassure you, no, not for

you, nothing is too much for you. I am a burden you say,
and no, no I say. Not a burden. The face I see in my mirror is not
one I want to see, impatient, frazzled, selfish.
Oh love, I could not have imagined it would come to this,

a moment when I can only live by lying to myself and you,
you with your pitiful, begging eyes,
you with your reedy voice calling me for help,
you a clanging bell that calls me,
you whom I love, but cannot carry.

What We Pass On: Collected Poems: 1980-2009

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