Tears' Reasons

Aged six
“Why are you crying?”
The nurse asked.
“No reason to cry.
Your tonsils are out.
It’s over now.”
I cried because she didn’t understand.

Aged seven
“Why aren’t you crying?”
I asked myself.
My grandmother had just died.
My thoughts a few days earlier:
“Would she buy me the doll?”
I had cried at the death of every goddamned character
In every goddamned book
But I couldn’t cry when my grandmother died.
I cried when Matthew Cuthbert died,
And I cried when Anne couldn’t cry for him,
And I cried when she finally could,
And then I cried because I never could cry for my grandmother.

Aged eight
“Honey, why are you crying?”
“This book says
Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
Tell me it’s lying."

Aged nine
“This year
The presents will be smaller
We didn’t have much money.”
“Why so many tears?
You’re crying more about presents
Than you did when Grandma died.”
I cried because Santa Claus was dead,
And because you’d assumed
So casually
That I had heard what I asked not to hear,
And because that mean boy in school had been right:
Parents don’t always say the truth,
And because if Santa Claus doesn’t exist, God probably doesn’t either
(Or did that reason come later?)
And because I didn’t cry when my grandmother died
And now I was crying about presents.

These days
Occasionally I still
Cry after talking to you
Like I used to:
First because you meant the world to me,
Then because you didn’t,
Then out of habit.

Sometimes I cry for no reason.
Then I cry some more
Because I’m so happy when I’m happy
And so sad when sad;
Happiness is no small thing to misplace.

“Why am I crying?
No reason to cry.”
Sometimes it’s okay
Not to understand.
The most you can do
Is wait out the rain.
“It’s over now.”
After all,
No reason for crying is no reason to cry.

(Hometown: Warsaw, Poland.
Current residency: Watertown, MA)