"When He Fell"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
April 23 2002 5:20 PM

When He Fell

Hear Carol Muske-Dukes reading this poem here. When he fell, strangers ran to him. Strangers called for help, lifted his body and carried it. Then strangers cut him, emptied him. Their ideas

of death determined when I would
touch him again. Their ideas of death
closed door after door between us,
altered his face, altered his presence—

violated the contract, the marriage,
took away even his wounded heart.
When he was at last delivered to me,
I was no longer myself—just as he

was no longer within identity. They
had taken everything from us. Authority—
everywhere I turned. Just as he and I
once thought we were authorities over

our own lives, our work, our sense of
mortality, imagination—oh, and that
"sense of loss" that predicated everything—
you know, what we called our personal lives.

Carol Muske-Dukes is professor of creative writing and English at USC and the author of eight books of poems, most recently Twin Cities.