Elegy for My Sadness
Maybe the centipede in the cellar
knows with its many disgusting legs
why I am sad. No one else does.
I want to be a sweetheart in every moment,
full of goats & xylophones, as charming
as a hill with a small village on it.
I want to be a village full of sweethearts,
as you are, every second of the day,
cooking me soups & drawing me pictures
& holding me, my inexplicable & elephant sadness,
with your infinite arms.
But isn’t it true, you are not
always why I am happy. & I promise
it is true, you are almost never why,
why I am sad. You are just
in the same room with me & my unsweet,
uninteresting sadness. I wish it could
unbelong itself from me, unstick
from my face. Who invented the word
“ennui”? A sad Frenchman?
A centipede? They should’ve never
been born. They should’ve seen me
in Paris, a sad teenage
exchange student. I was so sad
& so teenaged, one day my host sister
gripped my hand hard & even harder
said, SOIS HEUREUX.
BE HAPPY. & miraculously,
I wasn’t sad anymore.
All I felt was the desire to slap my host sister.
See, I was angry in Paris, which is clearly
not allowed. One can be sad in Paris (I was)
& one can be in love in Paris (I was not),
but angry? Angry in Paris?
Now, I am in love—with you!—though sometimes
terribly sad for no good reason, & not so much
angry as guilty when you say to me,
Don’t cry, don’t be sad, as if my sadness
could sink this room, this apartment, this
whole city not Paris. But does my sadness
always need to be your sadness?
I wish I could write an elegy for my sadness
because it has suddenly died. I wish I could mourn it
by kissing you again & again while neither of us
can stop laughing, a kind of kiss where we sometimes
miss the mouth altogether, a kind of kiss
I think every single dead person
in every part of the world must crave
with violent impossibility.
“Elegy for My Sadness” is from When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017)