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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 4, 2018.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem two summers ago in Portland, Maine, where my husband and I were spending a few days away from our three sons. There are surprisingly few poems about the complexity of long relationships. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that there are fewer poems about long-term relationships and parenting teenage or adult children than I need. Without poems to light the way, a path is even harder to discern and/or invent. Josh and I have been together for twenty-four years. That summer he was reading The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb.”
—Rachel Zucker

There Are Two Magics

he said describing the fantasy novel he was reading 
as they walked the drizzled streets she was listening 
& laughing & realized she'd been walking through one city 
or another next to this man for more than twenty years 
longer of course than their kids were old 
their smart alecky sons who hadn't yet met the person 
with whom they might walk through rain discussing 
ridiculous books with great sincerity & pleasure             
Seriously he said I can't stop reading it but when they went upstairs 
to the good bed in the good hotel he did stop reading 
& found a place where her shoulder met her neck 
& touched it until her mind finally went away for a while 
& they became bedraggled & he went out like a light 
but not even the good bed at the good hotel after good sex 
could put her to sleep not the meditation app or the long online essay 
about the White Supremacy of Conceptual Poetry 
she missed her dead mother & her middle-aged cousin 
who'd died the summer before she wondered if miles away 
her youngest was whimpering was her oldest awake texting 
was her middle son worrying she wanted the husband 
to tell her the plot again but didn't want to wake him 
he lay over the covers on his back his breath audible & regular 
folded hands rising & falling peaceful & fearless as if she'd 
never once meant him harm as if she'd always loved 
this warm animal as if this were not the same summer she'd said 
If that's really how you feel this isn't going to last & he hadn't said 
anything anger sadness doubt & disappointment was a wave 
that slapped them down & under so many people had died 
& life felt shorter than how long they'd been together they had 
through so many omissions & commissions hurt & been hurt 
it was that same summer but she was alive & awake he was 
asleep & alive they were weak but still there

Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Zucker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Zucker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Rachel Zucker

Rachel Zucker

Rachel Zucker's poetry collections include The Pedestrians (Wave Books, 2014), Museum of Accidents (Wave Books, 2009), and The Bad Wife Handbook (Wesleyan University Press, 2007).

by this poet

poem
When we made love you had 
the dense body of a Doberman
and the square head of a Rottweiler.

With my eyes closed I saw: 
a light green plate with seared scallops
and a perfect fillet of salmon on a cedar plank.

Now I am safe in the deep V of a weekday 
wanting to tell you how the world 
is full of street signs
poem
The other day Matt Rohrer said,
the next time you feel yourself going dark
in a poem, just don't, and see what happens.

That was when Matt, Deborah Landau,
Catherine Barnett, and I were chatting,
on our way to somewhere and something else.

In her office, a few minutes earlier, Deborah
had asked, are you happy
poem
At home, the bells were a high light-yellow
with no silver or gray just buttercup or sugar-and-lemon.

Here bodies are lined in blue against the sea.
And where red is red there is only red.

I have to be blue to bathe in the sea.
Red, to live in the red room with red air

to rest my head, red cheek down, on the