Literature Monday: Andrea Gibson, Maybe I Need You

Today, I am feeling a little dark and dreary. I’ll let Andrea Gibson’s magic speak for itself – and here is the link to the performance of it. Listen to the performance, then once again, listen to it as you read the words. It is a moving experience.

The winter I told you I think icicles are magic,
you stole an enormous icicle from a neighbors shingle
and gave it to me as a gift
I kept it in my freezer for seven months
until the day I hurt my foot
and needed something to reduce the swelling
Love isn’t always magic
sometimes it’s just melting
or it’s black and blue
where it hurts the most

Last night I saw your ghost
pedalling a bicycle with a basket
towards a moon as full as my heavy head
and I wanted nothing more than to be sitting in that basket
like ET with my glowing heart glowing right through my chest
and my glowing finger pointing in the direction of our home

Two years ago I said I never want to write our break up poem;
you built me a time capsule full of big league chew
and promised to never burst my bubble
I loved you from our first date at the batting cages
when I missed 23 balls in a row
and you looked at me
like I was a home run in the ninth inning of the world series
Now every time I hear the word, ‘love’, I think going, going…

The first week you were gone,
I kept seeing your hand wave goodbye
like a windshield wiper in a flooding car
in the last real moment I believed the hurricane would let me out alive

Yesterday I carved your name into the surface of an ice cube
then held it against my chest ‘til it melted into my aching pores
Today I cried so hard the neighbors knocked on my door
and asked if I wanted to borrow some sugar
I told them I left my sweet tooth in your belly button

Love isn’t always magic
but if I offered my life to the magician
if I told her to cut me in half
So tonight I could come to you whole
and ask for you back
would you listen
for this dark alley love song

For the winter we heated our home from the steam off our own bodies?
I wrote you too many poems in a language I did not yet know how to speak
But I know now it doesn’t matter how well I say grace
if I am sitting at a table where I am offering no bread to eat
So this is my wheat field;
you can have every acre, Love

This is my garden song
This is my fist fight
with that bitter frost
Tonight I begged another stage light to become that back alley street lamp that we danced beneath
the night your warm mouth fell on my timid cheek
as I sang, maybe I need you
off key
but in tune

Maybe I need you the way that big moon needs that open sea
Maybe I didn’t even know was here ‘til I saw you holding me
Give me one room to come home to
give me the palm of your hand
Every strand of my hair is a kite string
and I have been blue in the face with your sky
crying a flood over Iowa so you mother can wake to Venice

Lover, I smashed my glass slipper to build a stained glass window for every wall inside my chest
Now my heart is a pressed flower and a tattered Bible
It is the one verse you can trust

So I’m putting all of my words in your collection plate
I am setting the table with bread and grace
My knees are bent
like the corner of a page
I am saving your place.

(Poem: “Maybe I Need You,” written by Andrea Gibson, my first exposure to the art of the spoken word.)


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