Tricia Barker

by Best Poem

Beginning to End

Love is a shelf of books I’ve read
before. Bliss. Talking until 4 a.m.
Telling the stories of our lives.
One bookend is made of this perfection,
and the books in between are varied.
Throw in a few titles categorized
under comedy, self-help, psychology, palmistry,
but mostly stick with fiction and drama.
Watch as one of the lovers does not call or pick up
the phone directly. Feel their separation anxiety.

Strong emotions. Listen to their pleas and pledges.
Put your arms around their arms and wish
that they could stay entwined in long, sweaty embraces.
Realize their addiction to each other, excluding all others.
Ride their tide of fear, irrational anger, getting better,
reconciliation, celebration, deep intimacy,
reflection, and then go back to fear.
Insert your own details and revisions,
but know that these two lovers want to be together
for the rest of their lives. Observe how they desperately
hang onto their romance as their insides tear their outsides apart.
Watch their flights and returns, like birds going away to gather twigs.
Pity her as she falls to the floor, and his red car speeds away
like a huge arrow shot through her.

Wounded. Betrayal. Threats.
She said the wrong thing. He became too angry.
Fill in whatever you want to fill in.
Returned plane tickets. Even a trip to jail.
Premonitions. Angel’s voices.
Just before the final bookend, see them stranded in disbelief,
knowing that a teeth-chattering hell comes after they realize
that the past always stays in the past. They can visit
the memories but always alone.
Closures remind us of how quickly
our lives play out. If we have lived various lives
before this one, read and studied multiple plots and outcomes,
why can’t we make human nature become less predictable?
And, why can’t we shove the bitter end off the shelf?
But, there it is. Solid and reliable,
as ever. The end.

Tricia Barker attended U.T. in Austin Texas for an undergraduate degree in English. After that, she taught overseas in South Korea. In 2001, Tricia received her M.F.A. from Goddard College in Vermont. For the past four years, she has taught English at Brookhaven Community College in Dallas, TX. Also, Tricia manages a Creative Writing Camp for children and teens in the Dallas/Fort Worth area each summer.