Jonathan Galassi's "Pretzels"

In Jonathan Galassi’s Left-handed, a transformation unfolds in three powerful sections, as the book’s speaker, at midlife, tries for what he calls in the first section, “A Clean Slate.” He feels his way through a difficult, if at times exhilarating, middle passage (“A Crossing”), to arrive at last at the tentative joys he discovers in the final group of poems in “I Can Sleep Later.” Today’s selection, “Pretzels,” falls more than halfway along in this chronicle of old and new love, with its painful goodbyes.


You twisted your-
self into a pretzel
trying to tolerate
something you hated
in me it turned out
was essential. Does
that mean I should
twist myself into a
pretzel trying not
to be the thing that
made you twist
yourself into a
pretzel? Having
been salty and
wrenched for so
long it’s a relief I
find to unwind and
simply be bent but
not twisted; neither
of us can be pret-
zels anymore. Why
is that so hard to
understand? I’m sad
about it too but
I’m not angry. No,
I’m glad I’m not
twisted into a pret-
zel. You be glad too.

Excerpt from LEFT-HANDED © 2012 by Jonathan Galassi. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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