By Jana-Lee Germaine
Next to the Lost and Found,
our church basement folding chair circle.
Ten of us, week to week, scratch
words in workbooks, read copies
of How to Survive the Loss of a Love.
We pass or fail stages of grief.
Video clips from the other side:
a smiling blonde manages
her checking account, living debt-free;
gray men navigate dating and children.
Stories cycle in Share Time:
Billy the missionary served 25 years
with Kazakhstani orphans—
one day, home on furlough,
his wife drove to Walmart, never returned.
Dan’s wife ran off with the superintendent,
and Sharon’s husband left her at Denny’s
eating Moons Over My Hammy.
She hasn’t had an egg since.
I don’t know why, they said.
Blame always a stick to be thrown.
Not your fault, we agreed.
But maybe the fault was mine,
the unsupportive wife, the wastrel.
I drove 1700 miles, and still his voice,
obscured by barroom backnoise,
Insufferable woman, come home.
Each week I shift seats
on the circle’s farthest curve.
I’ve lost the knack for talking,
afraid the other eyes will shinny up my face
then flick away.
At Trader Joe’s, before group,
while cashiers flip French bread
into paper bags like a magic trick,
I practice words.
How to say I’ve left him,
that he was mean to me.
So I will be believed.
Jana-Lee Germaine’s work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Nimrod, The Baltimore Review, december, Bellevue Literary Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. Bellevue Literary Review featured her poem “Eating Disorder” in their “Off the Page” reading series in New York City. She is a recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize. She earned an MFA from Emerson College and is a Senior Poetry Reader for Ploughshares.