A Love Poem for Wally Miller
Who, in a Fit of Despair,
Drove His Electric Wheelchair
Into the Family Swimming-pool
Well, Wally. You certainly made a splash.
Everyone felt bad, sent potluck
To your mother, father, and sister. I think
You should have gotten the Olympic Gold
For that classic one-and-a-half gainer.
How could they have possibly known you after the fall?
You, who had been a master of the courts,
The champ, now champing at the bit,
In your new wheeled, overbarred world,
New-flower sores blossoming all over your new body,
Your new body, which now makes such a stink of it.
Yours is a television life, no longer solitary,
Alone except for the PCA (personal care attendant) who, somehow,
Made off with your silver cup from the La Jolla Yacht Club
(Though you won't be yachting much this year --- except, of course,
in the backyard pool).
Your girlfriend Marcie said she could no longer
Figure you out after the crack-up (April 9th, 1987,
Triple head-on, Margate Boulevard,
Out on the last Causeway. O, Wally!)
They said you --- a Rhodes Scholar! ---
Were high on coke, meth, and Wild Turkey.
You were always an overachiever, Wally.
I think your new-found silences overwhelmed Marcie.
Before, you were all words, especially when it came to
Batting averages, track records, and the Lakers.
But all comes home to all. Ah, Wally.
After the fall, your dad was pokerfaced, throughout ---
Which irritated you. And your mother cried nonstop ---
Which drove you batty. Your moony sister Denise
Confided to her best friend Megan Floss
That your bedroom smelled like shit.
They say you resisted having a cath run up your cock
Where (you thought) only love belonged. But, Wally...
We don't do love anymore, do we?
At least not like before (just fall-in-the-sack).
Our bodies don't belong to us anymore,
Do they, Wally?
Your final note, carefully typed on your Brother
Said you never wanted to have to watch
You wanted them to believe it was TV.
God knows you didn't want them to know the truth.
The day of your fall, your father was at the high-rise,
Fiddling with his computer and his secretary,
The plump Miss Wattles (of the powdered dewlaps).
While your mother was at the BakeSmart,
Buying you a birthday cake (twenty-three years alive,
Only four of them in the can).
She stopped off for another case of Hardy's Cooking Sherry,
For the kitchen, for cooking, and for dreaming,
In that moment alone, you cranked the power lever
Full-tilt forward (it was a beautiful sunny day,
One sole cloud over Golden Hills)
Your last thought was of the night with Marcie
When the two of you cried like gods
You felt like god as she cried in your ear
(The beast of love tossed in the night)
Baby-seeds cast over her pale blue chiffon
And she held you, the air smelling of wild orange
And love cherries one by one
planted down your neck soon to be so skewed
(Our days now skewed)
The two of you left with a case of
Permanent despair the child cast inside
For the child cast in your heart