“The Ex” by Charlotte Innes

Charlotte Innes


“Did you love him?” my friend asked, as I mowed the lawn.
I stopped, surveyed the shredded grass for a moment, torn
between what I believed was true and what I thought
might be. I wasn’t sure. “Well?” “I think I bought
a story. I mean we did. God, it seemed—” “Go on.”

He turned the radio off. Peace! All summer long,
we’d listened to unrelenting Olympic cheer from dawn
to dusk, while all my thoughts had wrestled down the fraught

question. Crushing “yes!” Spitting “no!” That it was “wrong”
to want to call—though just to help us both move on,
of course. My friend began to carve the lamb. “You’ll sort
it out. Let’s eat.” “But the lawn …” “… can wait. Look, I’ve brought
your favorite wine.” And the full moon rising seemed to yawn,
            “Did you love him?”

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013


Charlotte Innes: “I am a native of England; the daughter of a Jewish refugee from Germany; a New Yorker for 12 years, and for the last 22 years, a Southern Californian. Once I was unable to piece these fragments together in my written work. When I discovered poetry, fairly late in life, I found a way to start making sense of things. The beautiful Southern California light illuminated the past for me—literally—in poem after poem.”

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