He liked her
And she liked him
She was afraid
Of being used physically
By a man
Who wasn’t really interested in her
That’s just what men do
He was afraid
Of being used emotionally
By a woman
Who wasn’t really interested in him
That’s just what women do
And they each interpreted the other’s actions
As proving their own theories
Even though they both liked each other
It ended; she’d met someone else,
And I was not that broken up.
It turns out he was there, out at
A neighbor, in her old hometown,
Marine now, tall and rangy guy —
And we were friends again,
The way that goes.
I’d see her: music theory class,
Her headphones on, as
Beautiful as ever, but,
I too had felt something lacking, it was weird.
I should have moped, and raged, and stormed;
Instead, I dated someone else,
Who I liked far, far better
Relationships, like interviews
Turn into something, or they don’t.
This one lasted several months, then
Died its death, and
No one really mourned
I walked into her parents’ house just
Two days after Christmas;
I’d made the strange four hour drive
To see her in that place —
Her parents were the sweetest, nicest people.
I was her “new boyfriend”
And I met fifty relatives, it felt like;
All these names and faces, it was quite bewildering.
And later, after dinner, we
Sat down beside the Christmas tree;
She told me I looked tired, and
We went up to a room
Where I would soon be sleeping.
We had never slept together;
I know it’s not that cool, but
It’s my truth, and so I tell it here.
Then when we kissed goodnight, I felt
A longing in her, something new;
I didn’t and I couldn’t guess
What she was thinking, but
I soon found out
Walking by the river, down from campus, near
The aging fishing bridge, we stopped:
We hadn’t really talked yet much, and I
Was asking what her dreams were, and her plans —
She worked in radio, but not yet
How and where she planned on doing;
She was a writer, a speaker, a thinker,
Who wanted, not to conquer the world, but better it.
And as I listened, I could see
The future as she laid it out;
I probed a little: details, things
That, at that age, we talk about
And it was funny: life’s so real.
We’re all the same down underneath
The masks we wear: with hopes and fears
That differ in the details only
Yes, we’d worn masks, and hers was beauty;
Mine was weary misanthrophy
Shown false through the joy I showed
In simply making a new friend
You tell me. I was nineteen,
And she was more than life itself:
I would have cut my arm off, given
All my limbs to science, just
To be beside her, everyday.
But this was not a forlorn hope:
It was fulfilled, and day on day
It just got better, better, like
A string of cool fall weather,
And it seemed my trenchant heart was set to soar.
But what — what did I know?
I was alternately, a lunatic,
And one supportive, not that bad a guy.
And who — just who was she?
What is this magic blinds us to
Exactly who the people we love are?
I know not, now, or then.
But love’s a good thing, even broken:
Even made of hope and sneakers,
Even as smile in the park
That burned my soul way into dark
The first kiss was a trial run;
The second kiss, we meant it —
Our eyes had locked that certain way,
And nothing could prevent it
The fear and worry that we had
The spark would just be missing —
That disappeared the second time
That we resumed
We wait to hear its voice as though
It only will suffice:
Attraction is a lousy friend
Who gives us bad advice
I know you think of someone else,
I see it in your eyes;
I know you dream of other worlds
And living otherwise –
I know you look at me and see
No future, nada, none —
Yes I know how brief love can be
When only felt
I once loved a woman much smarter than me,
And also a better musician;
She had a quick wit, and a good turn of phrase,
Plus one healthy share of ambition.
I know while she’s richer than Midas these days,
Her talents remain, unabated:
Yet she has a spot in her heart still for me,
That idiot that
She once dated