There isn't a word for walking out of the grocery store
with a gallon jug of milk in a plastic sack
that should have been bagged in double layers

—so that before you are even out the door
you feel the weight of the jug dragging
the bag down, stretching the thin

plastic handles longer and longer
and you know it's only a matter of  time until
the bottom suddenly splits.

There is no single, unimpeachable word
for that vague sensation of something
moving away from you

as it exceeds its elastic capacity
—which is too bad, because that is the word
I would like to use to describe standing on the street

chatting with an old friend
as the awareness grows in me that he is
no longer a friend, but only an acquaintance,

a person with whom I never made the effort— 
until this moment, when as we say goodbye
I think we share a feeling of relief,

a recognition that we have reached
the end of a pretense,
though to tell the truth

what I already am thinking about
is my gratitude for language— 
how it will stretch just so much and no farther;

how there are some holes it will not cover up;
how it will move, if not inside, then
around the circumference of almost anything— 

how, over the years, it has given me
back all the hours and days, all the
plodding love and faith, all the

misunderstandings and secrets
I have willingly poured into it.

by Tony Hoagland

Other poems of HOAGLAND (35)

Comments (2)

Every loving person goes through such stages. Beautiful and sincere narration of hearts condition.
Hi Aparna, This is a very profound and open poem. Quite forthright. Most poets, including I, do not dare to touch Sacrilageous subject.. But if we look at nature, we can understand that it is only natural to have more than one partner. So that, the genes are distributed wider. It is necessary, by nature, for the species to survive and spread. Single partner-practice is only a creation of man, to avoid fights for the best woman among the men of the tribe; or for men among women of the tribe. Part of so-called civilization. So it is natural that both men and women lust for more partners... And it is not true, it is not correct to state: And all the men just think of only one woman: No! It is not true! ! But, for our life to be orderly and peaceful, it is always good to stick to one... Your poem brings out the mental conflict very effectively. The confict, which has seeds in the civilized practices, the cultured behaviour, the expectations of the society et al... Good write. A 10+++