Monthly Archives: June 2014

Transtromer

I’ve thought of him lately
because he is aboard my life’s sister ship.
He is where I could have been
before the irrevocable choices.
He is before the crossroads
even though our roads diverged
long before we ever crossed
each other’s paths.
He is the sketch
demanding to be finished.

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Crazy Girls

My Dears,

You’ve done the rest of us
a great disservice
by getting to the good men
before we did.

You’ve made them believe
that there’s nothing to believe in.

You’ve made them frightened,
skittish, skeptical.

You’ve made it that much harder
for me to do the simple things
like ask him out for coffee
or say congratulations when I mean it
without any strings attached.

You’ve made them second-guess
and read between the lines
as though everything I say
means something else.

You’ve made them think
we’re all like you —
manipulative, disingenuous,
unaccepting, unpredictable.

I hate you for it.

And yet.

All you’ve done in the end
is highlight the fact that
I’m a rare, exotic, worthy woman.
You’ve made my should-be common traits
stand out as the exception to the rule.
And I do so love
to shatter low expectations
and angry preconceptions
to little smithereens

So fuck you.
But thanks, I guess.

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I’m a little bit Blanche Devereaux after all.

Someone asks me for help
finding synonyms for a hook-up or booty call.
I am paid to think of things like this.
We start making a list.
A sleepover,
rendezvous,
one night stand,
casual sex,
encounter,
tryst.
We describe the affair:
torrid,
illicit,
tawdry.

And suddenly,
I realize I’m eyeing my phone,
thinking of how likely I’d be
to say yes
if he asked.

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For Mark

A belated Father’s Day tribute.

“You don’t have to go to any trouble,” he tells me.
He’s never one to make a fuss.
I mutter something about it being no trouble,
but I’m distracted by the label on the soup can,
doing a mental inventory of the ingredient list.

I am fourteen and home alone.
He is taking my older sister back to school.
I don’t remember where Mom and Linds are.
But I am fourteen and home alone,
and I have decided that dinner should be on the table
when Dad gets home from Granville.

“Would you eat it if I made it?” I ask, nervous
because I’ve never cooked for him before.
“Of course,” he reassures me, “but you really don’t have to.”
“I know I don’t have to. I want to.”

I time it perfectly. The rice is finished and mixed in
just a few minutes before I hear the garage door open.
Just enough time to taste test.
I like it, but will he?
I act like it’s nothing.
“Dinner’s ready whenever you want,” I say
after I ask about the drive.

He sits down at the table
with the crossword puzzle and coffee.
He always does this.
He is a brilliant man and a creature of routine.
And this time, he has my dinner.

He tries it. I hold my breath.
He is a man of few words,
but when he speaks,
he reshapes my world.

“You’re going to make some guy
really happy one day,”
he tells me.

But all that matters —
all that’s ever mattered —
is that I’ve made him happy.

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Thirst

We’re laughing into our third or fourth round of Moscow Mules,
telling stories of love and laughter and absurdity,
when I hear the word again.
It’s the second time recently
that someone has said it to me, about me.

“Brave.”

I stare down at the melting ice in my glass,
swirling it, swimming in it.
“I’m not,” I mutter,
but before I can get the objection out,
they’re in an uproar of protest,
insisting that they know this word
and they know me
and the two are the same.

I want to accept it, to believe it,
to wrap myself up in it to stay warm and safe.
Instead, I smirk, shrug, and sip,
drinking the ice away and feeling the weight of the empty cup
until the subject changes.

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Good Morning (Reprise)

You finally know my name.
Like every other day, I looked for you.
And like every other day, I said “hi” and you said “hello”
while I walked past.
But unlike every other day, today I stopped.
I added, “I’m Sam, by the way,”
and you told me your name even though I already knew it,
and you told me a story,
and I said you were a good man,
and then you sipped your coffee
and I resumed walking.

And now, I can’t stop smiling.

Because for the next little while,
this dress will be the I Told Him My Name dress.
Because these earrings will be the I’m Sam By The Way earrings.
Because today is the Day I Introduced Myself.
Because I wanted you to know my name —
and finally, you do.

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Glass Breaking

We’re all on friendly terms —
me and the rest of the women I’ve been.
In fact, I love them, faults and all.
I am the sum of their parts.
They are the source of so many things, including hope.
Hope, yes, but hope in all its forms.
Healthy hope. Happy hope. Loving hope.
False hope. Wishful-thinking hope. The hope of films and movie scripts.
The hope I had that one day, I’d run into you in a coffee shop
or at a gas station and I’d get to apologize
on behalf of the Woman I Used To Be.
I’d get to acknowledge that who I was is not who I am, and I could release
the lingering guilt that I frequently forget and hate to remember.
But now you have a piece of paper that says something like,
“I do not think of you.”
I did not think this would stir any feelings at all.
But it turns out that the Woman I Used To Be
is still holding the guilt and apology in her hands
like a carafe of coffee and a mug
that will never get poured and will never be filled and drunk,
and I can feel her trying not to throw them both on the ground
because destroying them would be better than feeling their weight.
And the Woman I Am is looking at the Woman I Used To Be
and thinking, “Don’t you make a mess —
I just cleaned up in here.”

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