Karen Brehmer

On Divorce

The beginning of the end is hard to place
Reflection tells you it was longer
maybe years before
the moment you originally thought
to yourself this is it

 Get advice from friends
The sentimental stuff will be hardest to separate if you still like each other
               says one
                who’s been there

Make two columns for equity in distribution by both monetary and sentimental value                 
               says another
Equity and distribution 
Monetary and sentimental value
The practicality of these phrases is absurd
              sorting memories
              wedding gifts 
              anniversary mementos
               merged lives
into separate boxes to go to separate homes where they will take on a new life
               and meet strangers

This wasn’t in your wedding vows
Won’t you try harder 
              scream a whisper at least a thousand times
              and you tumble through the thought process
              over and over
              just to be sure to arrive back
at the sorting boxes of 
equity in distribution by monetary and sentimental value
            of the life you once built
            with someone else

Through it all
never ever pass up an opportunity
               to show the smallest kindness to your spouse
                           even if they aren’t, anymore

On Macedonia

Focus on his lips. 
Focus on his voice. 
It’s easy enough to do; 
so smooth, so rich. 
If someone says ‘kako si’ it means ‘how are you’ he says.  I write it down. 
The response is ‘dobro’. It means ‘good’ or ‘well’. Say it.  
Dovro. I mess it up. 
‘Dobro’. Roll the ‘r’.
. I roll the ‘r’. 
Look at you! You sound good.
So does he. 
Now, to return the question, say ‘ti kako si’ – it’s like saying ‘and you?’
I write it down. 

He shows up with his lips and his voice. 
His kiss is electric.
I look up Macedonian phrases 
to sprinkle in conversation.
‘You are delicious’ is ‘Ti si vkusen’. 
‘You are strong’ is ‘Ti si jak’. 
I get to tell him what ‘vkusen’ and ‘jak’ mean – 
he can speak it fluently but doesn’t read it.

He occasionally writes to me and asks Kako si?
I always respond dobro even when I am not very dobro.
Ti kako si I ask and he is always dobro
and then we are talking about our days and travel and the future.
Tell me what it’s like there I say of Macedonia.
Beautiful lakes, mountains, fresh air he says. Nothing like it.
Take me to California he says. 
Book the trip now for July.
I know he isn’t serious
but I would if he was.   
I make plans for a visit to Arizona 
Pack the car; let’s go now he says. 
I love the spontaneity. 
Of course he says.

He uses the word cute; mine is sweet
What is Macedonian for ‘cute’? I write.
I don’t know how to write it, I only know how to say it.  
The next time we talk, tell me how to say it.  
Will do!  
But we don’t talk again.

What is Macedonian for ‘He is gone’? 
What is Macedonian for ‘Please come back’?
What is Macedonian for
What is Macedonian for
What is Macedonia

Karen Brehmer

Karen Brehmer was born in Fresno, California. She studied Journalism (writing) at a small liberal arts college in Franklin, Indiana, and Theater (directing) at Indiana State University. She currently teaches Writing and Rhetoric to first-year writing students at Oakland University in a small town north of Detroit. She lives in Auburn Hills with her husband and her American Bulldog, Arthur.