I wrote this poem over eight years ago, about the night before my then boyfriend left for rehab. I never felt comfortable enough to share it until now, so consider it a golden oldie.
Tonight, I let you hold me instead of just running away.
And for once, I actually try to understand it
How did I get here?
Versus question it –
Why am I here?
I try to be natural, fluid –
Consciously remind myself to relax –
But I don’t know how to do this and it shows.
Tonight, I try to be soft. Open. Receptive.
Vulnerable to you.
Lovely for you.
I so badly want to be unafraid
So badly want to believe you
So I will try.
I let your mouth cover my own sarcastic one
Let you touch my hair, my eyelashes, my throat –
Force myself not to flinch in shame as you push the blankets aside
revealing my flaws and my inexperience.
And while you move inside of me
I take the time to study you –
Not the projected you, who is so boastful
So damaged and so damned –
But the boy that you make such effort to hide –
Not so angry now, though –
Not so tough
Almost beautiful, even
Strange how I never noticed before.
Your eyes are half-closed but they meet mine still
in this momentary vulnerability, in this union that is so new to me
so routine for you –
I realize how much, despite everything
For all intensive purposes, I do.
It has gone from night to morning in what seems like no time.
And it is unspoken, but looming –
the elephant in the room.
And finally I cant wait anymore
The clock reads “time” & my bones say “go”
Strange how this is the first night
That I don’t want to leave
And also the first night
That I can no longer stay
The quiet thud of your arm against the mattress
as I slip away from you
Painfully, shamefully naked, I struggle into my clothes
Blue jeans over too-full belly, thighs, hips, shirt tugged down protectively –
Your arms tucked behind your head as you watch
Casually smirking voyeur who has seen it all before.
I quickly thank God for the darkness.
Now that it is time to go, a million things that I should have said –
an alphabet soup of words flooding my mind
but I can’t choke out a word, and why?
Because now I might mean one of them, and it would be too much.
Instead, I kneel at the edge of your bed
Bend over, my hair a curtain of fire that I tuck behind my ear
I take your face in my hands with a strange sureness –
Yet I know that if I spoke now, I am weak, and I would cry
So instead, I kiss you once, twice, three times –
I still have no idea if I can even stand the thought of you, yet
You catch my wrist, entwine fingers with mine, and it is too much.
It is all I can do to pull away before I burst into flames.
I turn at the door, words caught in my throat
you are now perfectly nonchalant, illuminated in the blue white
Of muted reality television.
“Don’t worry”, you say with a shrug.
“I wont,” I lie. Of course I will. I already am.
The last thing I see as I pull the door closed
is the flash of the cross around your neck
The spark as you light a cigarette
I tiptoe in silence through the living room
The Christmas decorations are ghosts
Shadow Santa, graveyard manger
Slip on stockinged feet in the kitchen
10 pairs of shoes at the door. 10 pairs –
And mine. As out of place as me.
The questions again –
What were we ever doing here?
Mail scattered across the table that you hate
I need to forget this place and these little things
That I’ve begun to know about you
I need to breathe – because I realize that I stopped
when I closed your door.
Outside, the sun is starting to rise
My breath, returning, showing in spurts of cold air
The car is quiet, calm – my familiar getaway and sanctuary.
I stay for awhile in the driveway, letting the car warm up
watching the colors of the morning rise over the horizon
as I try to decide.
Then it is time to back up, up, and away
And leave behind
Everything I never knew I wanted –
The house on Lena Drive