A Guide to Failed Relationships

by Margaret Erhart

Failure to understand, to predict the consequences of saying no. Failure to foresee the consequences of saying yes. Failure to hold choice sacred, like a rare metal that might in fact be uranium. Failure to communicate well, to stick up for the right to be angry. Disappointed. Uncomfortable. Failure to wait and wait and wait. Failure to give up those things that have already fallen through the net. Failure to have a net in place to catch those who misstep and fall from the tightrope. Holding the rope too tight. Or too loose. Failure to rope bodies together as the snow-covered mountain rises above the human specks that dot her windy ridges, as they struggle on across the ice, the wintry slopes, gasping. Failure to fully understand the great joy of staying home. Failure of nerve when disapproval is called for. Or when praise is due. Failure to place the house in the correct amount of sun or shade at the compromised juncture of two human wishes. Failure to compromise. Failure to not compromise. Failure to say “thank you” and “that’s enough.”