don't tell anyone

We had been married for six or seven years
when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me
that she screams underwater when she swims—

that, in fact, she has been screaming for years
into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool
where she does laps every other day.  

Buttering her toast, not as if she had been
concealing anything,
not as if I should consider myself

personally the cause of her screaming,
nor as if we should perform an act of therapy  
right that minute on the kitchen table,

—casually, she told me,
and I could see her turn her square face up
to take a gulp of oxygen,

then down again into the cold wet mask of the unconscious.
For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming
as they go through life, silently,

politely keeping the big secret
that it is not all fun
to be ripped by the crooked beak

of something called psychology,
to be dipped down
again and again into time;

that the truest, most intimate
pleasure you can sometimes find
is the wet kiss

of your own pain.
There goes Kath, at one pm, to swim her twenty-two laps
back and forth in the community pool;

—what discipline she has!
Twenty-two laps like twenty-two pages,
that will never be read by anyone.
~ by Tony Hoagland
from Poetry (July/August 2012).


gz said...

somehow that feels sad

J Cosmo Newbery said...

"For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming
as they go through life, silently"

A lot of power in that. Lives of quiet desperation, someone said.

goatman said...

Great picture-match. What kind of camera would that be,I wonder, to take that shot?
Does a scream have to be in sadness?

Adullamite said...

I hope your work is not killing you lass.

red dirt girl said...

If I am still blogging after this Saturday, then we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I have survived Black Friday. Until then, I'd recommend you not place any bets on my survival.


Frankie Jay said...

Wasn't screaming part of primal therapy?
Screaming loudly may be good therapy but screaming silently? Quiet desperation indeed.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Black Friday? Does Friday the 13th fall on the 23rd this month?

Adullamite said...

You will survive, we need you!

soubriquet said...

I was telling the author of this blog about a friend I used to have, who, when things were getting a bit fraught at work, muttered to me "If this goes on any more, I'll have to scream into a bag!"

When she noted my furrowed brow, she explained, that screaming at work, or, indeed, at home, might often be frowned upon. So she'd hit on the very good idea that you could scream your screams silently into a paper bag. Tie the top shut. Contain it, your fear, anger, sadness, anguish, rage, frustration.. tie it shut. Put it in a box or a closet.

And when the time is opportune, say, a quiet sunday afternoon, out you go, into the woods or fields, with your armful of bags. Rip them open beneath the wheeling birds. Let the shriek, the long howl go.
This post reminded me of Sue, whose husband cheated on her, with my wife.

Sue and I were bound together in that silent scream. It wasn't a good time.

red dirt girl said...

Oh dear, this post has gone right down the blues pipeline. Screaming underwater is NOT silent, if any of you ever attempted to talk to your friends underwater at the local swimming pool. It sounds all muffled and garbled. Steve Jobs was a big fan of having his employees take a break and SCREAM as loud as they could to relieve tension and stress. So, alright, Mr. Hoagland pictures the scream as one of silent pain, and I respect the poem on his grounds. He is a great poet who takes the everyday and turns it upside down to see what shakes out of it.

Black Friday is a pseudo-economic term that describes the day in the fiscal year a company finally breaks even and begins earning money 'in the black' or profit. Traditionally, in the retail world, this day has been the day after Thanksgiving. Lots of stores will open at midnight on Thanksgiving and stay open for a full 24 hours with all sorts of incentives and sales for the consuming public.

Soubriquet, it is my Christmas wish that your shared silent scream be finally buried, once and for all, in 2013. You deserve so much more.


bulletholes said...

"Screaming is therapy"

bulletholes said...

oh, lovelovelove the poem!

red dirt girl said...

Like the video and lovelovelove the poem as well. If my daughter goes to UH - you and I are gonna sneak in to one of Hoagland's lectures!


SL said...

"politely keeping the big secret
that it is not all fun".....man, I love this poem!

red dirt girl said...

Hi SL! oh yes, that's a great line!