The Maynard
Spring 2014

Nicole Hoelle

Ode to Change

Change is the way some of us stay the same through it all,

while in some ways turning to something

completely different, the way

R turns up cold and hard

as the snow breaking against the backs of Boston’s shores,

a hardened rock of a jewel

in the middle of her face now—beautiful but

not in that same way she was

across the then sugary dark

Change is what keeps happening

over and over again,

as though it’s new or different,

the people who step out in the form of shadows,

the shadows that repeatedly step out

from behind the years,

unrecognizably alive

and still named Jack or Judy or Mom

but really they’re just leftovers—

the last remaining spots or impressions.

Remember, Harry, that time I came running up to your house at 2 a.m.

and busted the window?

maybe it was winter, maybe it was summer,

all I know is the night

was blank as bedsheets and I

was 25 and jumping inside, yelling outside for you,

Harry, because there was something that felt like

a jellyfish sliding around inside me

and I needed to stop it—there were empty spaces and

I needed to fill them.

And, so, I hung outside your window like an extra raving curtain

blasting back and forth in the dark.

Remember that, Harry?

Remember that then your dad came outside, your dad who

reminded me of Sidney Lumet—

hunkering, saying in slow, sliding words, “you just need to relax.”

“Tell her to get outta here!” you then yelled from inside your dark, throbbing room where you listened

to music that sounded like chainsaws,

your voice popping like bottle caps inside your room.

I cried into your dad’s shirt and all over the front lawn by the Chevy and the Volvo.

“Here, come on, just have one of these,” he said, handing me a Xanax or an Ativan,

wobbling back and forth on monstrous feet, feet that now stick out from strange slippers

in one of those extra white, urine-soaked hallways

where men and women wander delirious, singing, yelling,

moving like many arms and legs—out of shape, out of tune.

“Hey, Art, can you believe it? That this is happening? This

whole life, that it comes to this?”

But he’s not here. He’s either standing somewhere far behind

proclaiming the absurdity of aging

or maybe acting out some one or other of the “tough Jews,” as he called them—Lansky maybe

and maybe it’s right around Chanukah and Christmas and he sloughs off both of them

with a swat of his hand. And maybe it’s still too early for him to have taken one of his glory

drugs—Benzos or Barbs. And maybe you and I, Harry, are not fighting in the background

but rather laughing, and waiting for something big to happen,

for this great big life to begin.