"why I hate to cry" by Risa Denenberg

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why I hate to cry
Crying ruins you. —
Tommy Orange

I was paging through The New Yorker while the voice on the radio was recalling MLK. Or rather RFK breaking the news of the murder that night to a crowd in Indianapolis. There are statues of MLK and RFK in that city, arms reaching out to one another. Reaching, not touching. I started crying because of the not touching I was feeling at that moment, and then, lounging on the couch with Bo kneading my shoulder, while I’m telling him the story once again of how I brought him home when he was just a bitty thing, and counting — using my fingers — to figure out that he may, possibly, just might, outlive me, if he lives to be 20, as my Jezebel did, and I die at 83 (which seems possible . . . or likely . . . or unavoidable). The chaos in my mind turned to leaving instructions for someone to take care of him. But who will still be here? Then. As I turned the page from reading the story by Tommy Orange where he says crying ruins you, I stumbled smack into the deep almond eyes of Rachel Carson, so clear and wise, and thought, I never look into anyone’s eyes anymore. I look away because, these days, everyone’s eyes seem glassy and distant and dead. I suddenly hear my dad saying to my brother in mean-voice, look me in the eye when you speak to me, and I wonder when I lost the urge, the need, to see eye-to-eye with this world. And when I cry, I’m never sure what for — my dad or MLK, all the corpses, the homeless sleeping under the statue in Indianapolis, the ruined earth, Rachel Carson’s eyes. And that’s why.

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Risa Denenberg

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state, where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of LBT poetry. She has published three chapbooks and three full length collections of poetry: “Mean Distance from the Sun” (Aldrich Press, 2013), “Whirlwind @ Lesbos” (Headmistress Press, 2016) and “slight faith” (MoonPath Press, 2018).

Photo Credit: Staff