Thank you for running away without saying goodbye,
for putting your first class ticket to Spain
on my credit card, for using my money to leave me.
for giving me something to do those first 24 hours
when I couldn’t sleep. Closing down all our joint accounts
and putting a fraud alert on myself gave me people to talk to
in the middle of the night. The customer service employees
were sweet, my plight not so different from the other customers
who call at 2 a.m.
Thank you for introducing me
to so many policemen. When I reported you missing,
I learned I was still attractive, at least to one cop, who gave me
his cell number if I ever wanted to talk.
for emailing those death threats to your employer.
When they put your face on local TV, I became a bit of a celebrity—
the disgraced wife—and the curious called to find out
what was going on.
Thank you for giving me such a good story,
for all your cruelty, for cashing out the IRAs I bought you
so your lawyer—who once represented Anna Nicole Smith—
could demand alimony.
Thank you for sending Facebook kisses
to my friends who look upon me with such pity
that I never have to admit now to doing anything wrong
in our marriage.
Thank you for asking me
to pay your lawyer’s fees. Since you were using my money
to divorce me anyway, that means you wanted me to have the pleasure
of paying to get rid of you twice. That took a certain set of balls
I didn’t know you had.
Thank you for leaving me with papers
you never graded, for leaving your students three weeks
into the semester. Returning those papers to the college
gave me something to do rather than curl up in bed.
from all the professors who had to step in and take your classes—
they each got a few extra thousand dollars as they tried to explain to your students
what had happened—why you left, why wrote “WTF” and “lame ass excuses”
on their essays.
Thank you from the students who now also have
a great story and know it wasn’t their fault.
for never completing your W-9—that way the college
couldn’t pay you for the few weeks you actually did work. You saved me
the trouble of sending you a check overseas.
for the second set of officers who showed up at the door
the day before you were on TV. I guess you could say
the experience built character. They demanded I tell them
where you were—they asked, just like in the movies,
“Can we have a look around?” They accused me of hiding you,
even though I told them you’d left me and were in Europe
somewhere. “Where is somewhere?” they grilled me.
for my tears that finally made the officers believe me.
for getting me to eat carbs again, oatmeal the only thing
I could digest for a week after you left. The chicken, one bite gone,
on my plate, my gagging. Stress is a good way to lose weight,
I have to admit.
Thank you for reminding me
about the kubaton, the weapon my friend had bought me
after there was a rape on the beach. I thought I had lost it.
Thank you for the shock
of finding it again in your book bag, for giving me pause, for having me wonder
whether you were serious, whether you really did consider “poking out the eyes”
of your boss as you claimed in your email.
Thank you for the moral dilemmas—
should I get a restraining order? Have you committed? I’d become one
of those women who waited in a line in a courthouse with her documents,
her sob story.
Thank you for making me one of many.
You could say the situation was Whitmanesque, really—
I was among those desperate people at last, seeing life so up close.
No makeup, no pretense, only my folder of terror.
Thank you for leaving me
with your messes.
Thank you for leaving me
with your dying dad and taking the power-of-attorney with you,
the checks only you could sign. Your leaving him proved to me
your heart was so damaged that I never had to struggle with the question
should I take him back?
Thank you for giving me the job
of dealing with your dad’s lawyer and faxing her
the police reports so someone else could step in
and pay the nursing home. When dread and anxiety filled my days
you gave me someone else to worry about besides you.
Your father became a small diversion
from your departure.
Thank you for saying
you wanted to come back home just as you maxed out
the last Visa you had in your own name. How romantic!
for renting that Peugeot and staying in 5-star hotels
without me. You looked like that much more of an indulgent
Thank you for your sadism,
your Facebook suicide posts that had me calling consulates
and embassies and even the bridge in France where you said
you were going to jump. The woman on the phone explained to me
that no one could get out of their cars, that there were guards and rails
that made suicide impossible.
Thank you for posting
why you were still alive, how you tried to leap
but sprained your ankle, that you took all your meds then tried to drown
in the tub but woke up hungry for a sandwich.
for my obscenely expensive overseas phone bill, for stealing
my car and parking it, not in the airport, but in an offsite lot
where I couldn’t find it.
Thank you for the roses
you left on the front seat, the water they were in
that bled into your suicide note so that the middle paragraph
was one blue smudge.
Thank you for not taking a cab to the airport
because then I would have had just that much less
sympathy from my friends.
Thank you for reintroducing me
to my friends who I missed all those year when I was isolated
in the apartment with you.
Thank you for emailing me to say it was my fault
that my father died, that my divorcing you killed him.
That was a nice touch—it made my grief for him that much
more pure. I guess the day I clicked open that email
was the day I spiraled away from you for good.
Thank you for calling me
Thank you for diminishing my accomplishments and reminding me
that they were all due to my skin color.
Thank you for your failures, for your
refusal to look at yourself, to look me in the eye.
Thank you for the dramatics,
for leaving me in the bathroom to cry the night before you left,
the night I had no idea you were going to leave me.
While I thought you were at work, while you were really driving
to the airport, I sat in the therapist’s office hugging one of her
maroon pillows. She said that it sounded like our marriage was over.
Yes, I said, but where will he go? He can barely get out of bed—
he can’t keep a job. We talked about the couch where you played
on the computer all day, how I would have to drag it
into the hall and lock the door behind you. It was kind of a joke,
but I was crying when I said it.
Thank you for leaving me
because I didn’t know, even with the therapist’s help,
how to throw you out.
Thank you for the histrionics that kept
my adrenalin pumping for weeks at a time.
Thank you for prompting me
to change the locks, to fear the parking garage, to fear the laundry room
where the police said you might come back and hide.
for the diarrhea and insomnia.
Thank you for forcing me to learn
how to use pepper spray and a stun gun.
Thank you for the new face lines,
the new gray hairs.
Thank you for leaving me and making me,
finally, drive myself everywhere.
Thank you for my exquisite
Thank you for the points on my license, the driving school class
I had to take.
Thank you from the woman whose Toyota I smashed.
for leaving me to box up all your crap, the fancy pens and electronics I found,
more evidence of how you liked to overspend.
Thank you for the Star Wars stamp
collection and pictures of your old girlfriends. Packing them for you gave me
something to do with my shaky hands.
Thank you for the case of Vienna sausages,
the stack of canned sardines, foods I’d never eat, that you left in our cupboard—
I felt like a good person bringing them to the food bank,
that also thanks you.
Thank you for dropping the ball on that special edition
of the literary magazine you were supposed to be editing. The stranger I talked to
was very kind as I explained how I wasn’t sure
if you were ever coming back.
Thank you for blowing off
the conference where we were supposed to teach together, thank you
for blowing off our joint reading in California.
Thank you for the bills
from medical lab, which I paid—your cholesterol isn’t that bad,
by the way.
Thank you for the calls from your credit card company,
for never bothering to change your number, for ignoring
the minimum payment due.
Thank you for the calls from the debt collectors.
I feel better knowing I’m not the only one who has trouble reaching you.
When you were here, the apartment was always so silent,
a depression hanging in the air-conditioned rooms. I was cold
because you liked to keep the thermostat turned down. Now I open
the windows and answer the phone no matter what number comes up
on caller ID.
Thank you for making me so lonely.
Thank you for all those years
of ignoring me.
Thank you for testing my ethics, for compelling me
to do the right thing.
Thanks for nothing.
And thanks for everything,
for smashing our relationship into so many sharp slivers
that it’s impossible for me now to romanticize the past.
for all the new prescriptions I take and the bitter taste each pill leaves
on the back of my tongue.
Thank you for my double duty heartbeat,
my eye twitch.
Thank you for pointing out to me just how much
of a mess I can really be, for setting up the klieg light on my codependence
and making me sweat in each close-up. I’m sorry you’re not here
to see the movie—I’m sure you’d enjoy it, especially the part
where I fling bottles of your cologne—Grey Flannel, Guorum,
Yves Saint Laurent—down the trash chute and sob.
for the satisfying sound of breaking glass, the douse of Kouros doing its best
to cover up the garbage stench.
Thank you for continuing
to buy cologne all those years even though I was allergic
Thank you for sneaking cigarettes and stinking up the car
even though I’m allergic to tobacco, too.
Thank you for leaving me
pictures of us to burn on the beach.
Thank you for the creeps
who see my vulnerability and now want a date.
Thank you for the nice guys
who say, Let me know, honestly, if there’s anything I can do.
There’s the phone again—someone trying to tracking you down
and make you pay.
Thank you for being such a fuck up—
I always have someone to talk to now, so many ways to remember you.
I considered getting her to seduce him
online, meet him downtown, lead him to a motel to tie him up
and leave him there. I had the perfect person, an actress,
who’d done it twice before for other friends, an actress
who had her own heavy-duty fur-lined handcuffs.
She was willing to kiss strangers
as that was just part of acting. She wasn’t famous
so he wouldn’t recognize her. She wasn’t famous
which is why she was up for doing this.
She didn’t even want any money, she told me.
She was in it for the thrill—the upscale bar drinks
he’d buy her, her power. Maybe you can return the favor
one day, she said to me. And I thought of another friend
sitting in her cousin’s car, wearing a borrowed wig
and the biggest sunglasses she could find at Target,
following her boyfriend to make sure he was
where he said he would be. Suddenly I felt very tired
and alone and pathetic, even as this actress encouraged me.
She knew another set of actors—young guys—
who would pose as thugs, who would pound on his door
in the middle of the night. These actors were good
at making ex husbands pee their pants. Ultimately,
I went it alone—no humiliation or scare tactics
quite good enough. Of course, if I had made such a deal,
I couldn’t write about it, even in a poem,
as it would amount to a confession.
I wanted him to forever be afraid to kiss anyone else
or answer the door. I truly did. I wanted him
to feel how I felt. But I resisted
when the actress tried to convince me,
that, even if I was caught, I’d be sure to get off.
Her cysts grew into the size of melons
as she shopped into a stupor, Doonie & Bourke
purses and Mac computers. She didn’t
do laundry and, when the pile grew too big,
she threw out her clothes and bought clean ones.
She purchased new bikes for her kids
after she left each husband, walking away
from full garages. She passed bad checks
and shoplifted mascara wands,
always ready to scam
the next man. Expert at slip and fall and fender benders,
she used each settlement for tummy tucks
or nose jobs. She knew her rights. She carried
her restraining orders like war medals.
She taught her kids to steal my wallet and return it
with all the bills gone. She stole her brother’s,
my ex’s, inheritance. And she liked to tell a story
that always gave me the creeps—
She and my ex shared
an apartment in college, the building manager
thinking they were Mr. and Mrs. Isn’t that hilarious?
She’s laugh and laugh. You’re not jealous, are you?
My ex went to help her recuperate after every
operation. Thank god this one’s benign,
he’d say, calling me after each scare. The doctors said
they had no idea why there were all these cysts,
all the hairy toothy monsters that grew inside her.