Marie Howe
Magdalene: The Addict & The Affliction

I liked Hell, 



I liked to go there alone



relieved to lie in the wreckage, ruined,  physically undone.



The worst had happened.  What else could hurt me then? 



I thought it was the worst, thought nothing worse could come.



Then nothing did, and no one.






The Affliction




When I walked across a room I saw myself walking



As if I were someone else,




when I picked up a fork, when I pulled off a dress, 



as if  I were in a movie.




                                It’s what I thought you saw   when you looked at me. 




So when I looked at you  I didn’t see you



I saw the  me I thought you saw, as if I were someone else.




I called that outside – watching.   Well I didn’t call it anything



when it happened all the time.




But  one morning  after I stopped the pills –  standing in the kitchen



for one second I was inside   looking out




then I popped back outside.    And saw myself looking.



Would it happen again?    It did, a few days later,




Wendy was   pulling on her winter coat  standing by the kitchen door



And suddenly I was  inside  and I saw her



I looked out from my own eyes



and I saw     her eyes  blue gray  transparent



and inside them – Wendy herself!                                               




Then I was outside again.   




and   Wendy was saying Bye Bye, see you soon, 



as if Nothing had Happened.




She hadn’t noticed.   She hadn’t known that I’d Been There



For Maybe 40 Seconds,  



and that then I was Gone.




She hadn’t noticed that I Hadn’t Been There for months, 



years, the entire time she’d known me.  




I needn’t have been embarrassed to have been there for those seconds,



she had not Noticed the Difference.




This happened   on and off for weeks, 




and then I was looking at my old friend John—



suddenly I was in   and I saw him,




and he (and this was almost unbearable)  



he saw me see him,




and I saw him see me.  



He  said something like, You’re going to be ok now,



Or, It’s been difficult hasn’t it, 




but what he said mattered  only a little. 



We met -- in our mutual gaze --in between


a third place I’d not yet been.





Found In Volume 45, No. 05
Read Issue
  • howe2 1
Marie Howe
About the Author
Marie Howe's books include The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (W.W. Norton, 2009), What the Living Do (1998), and The Good Thief (Persea, 1988).