Category Archives: relationship

Future Husband:

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I just don’t get

the girls I went to college with–

the social butterflies,

the big, Miami beach personalities,

voices rising higher than champagne bubbles,

as I wondered who taught them how to draw a crowd,

add more lighting to a room

with smiles and fluid gestures.

 

You need to understand this, but I’m not

one of my many obsessions, like the girl

I watched fit in like a geometric piece

in improv club or anywhere else with the right

kind of quirks, or the friend who drank beer,

shouted louder than her guy friends, or the girl with attitude

most likely voted to be the “natural born leader”.

I’m not even the American

sweetheart who gets large tips at a restaurant job

and boyfriends with just a smile and a high pitched voice.

 

No. I am the polar night phenomenon for days

and days in Alaska;

or, the pale gray sky releasing another day of sleet.  I am the student

being told “to smile more” in a seventh grade progress report;

the girl told to “speak louder, I still can’t hear you,” or the five

points subtracted from a oral presentation due to “lack of confidence,”

teachers’ yearly “help her come out of my shell” project

(they always failed).

I am the students advising me not to join the debate team,

among other clubs where introverts need not apply,

reading about the power of my personality

in world that can’t stop talking; too reserved to be

girls gone wild or a male’s Xtube fantasy; I can only

watch the life of the party, suited to absorb lives

in a book while curled on a couch, a safe distance

from sensory overloads on Bourbon.

I’m hurrying home at 5 pm to be alone with the radio

down low, spending nights in white satin and other throwbacks.

I am skipping ads that look for workers with a “can-do”

spirit; I throw away ads that have the word “out-going”.

I’m the twelve year old correcting my mother,

“I’m not pessimistic, just realistic.”

I’m more my mother’s husband’s daughter, expressions

As dark as his skin, final gestures, morose frowns trying

To be as sweet as the Creole princess she hoped for

(not this depressive alternative black girl she was given).

I’m the diagnosis, the medication,

the therapy, the girl that jumbles, mutters, whispers

words, slightly better than my aunt’s non-verbal childhood,

but falling far, far behind.

I’m the moody eyeliner.

The blue lips.

The sullen eyes,

The whatever shrug,

The “please make eye contact,”

The bullies’ target

The weird one because I don’t care for the top 40,

don’t care who in the hell is on Housewives of Whatever,

Wondering what’s the big deal about the homecoming dance.

A blank slate where you draw a personality,

Writing phone numbers but expecting no calls or friendships

(better off anyway, they’ll annoy me).

I’m a broken house divided despite the best of my worst efforts,

Taking my time after the bus ride.

 

I am nothing people chase after.

 

But this is me, being as honest as I can possibly be.

Forgive me,

and thank you for staying.

 

Anniversary (Revisions)

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I’ve been listening to our neighbors pack up to leave as I stir to keep the rice from burning.

 

What did they find out

in the time between our wedding

and one year later? Did we interrupt

their silence on the other side of the wall,

listened to usual moving day chatter

about the thrift store table,

soap dishes,

and items we hoarded for a month?

The clink of utensils on china as we spooned our first Sunday meal

seeped through the walls with the savory aroma as we sat down to

meat loaf (your favorite)

mashed potatoes,

and corn (I knew you wouldn’t touch).

 

The wife is waiting for her other half to return with the U-Haul truck. The rice pilaf is cooling on the counter.

Did they ever pass us by on the street

or aisle ten at Rouses,

catch a glimpse of our courtship, then reminisce?

Like us, they are married too, so they probably nod

patiently as we balance grocery bags on the edge

of bursting, knowing the debates before us

(where do we put the ketchup, toilet paper, light bulb?).

The fine creases in our upbringing still creep into

our honeymoon phase like the way

you call for a washcloth before a shower,

and I simply call it a “small towel”.

Or how you wakes up early while I savor the sleep in

on a day off. Little differences give love an edge,

but did they also understand how

the night and day

of  you and me

completed the bricks

windows

before our first key,

threshold?

 

I’m hearing a voice rise for someone in another room. I’m opening the oven to check on the progress of our evening plans.

 

How soon before they realized we were night owls,

hearing entwined laughter

and the glow of a TV screen at 1 am

before submissions to sleepy kisses,

a fluid embrace

I value as our first love language?

We found out how to appreciate quiet

after our entry level grind,

quickly gave the evening to the tourists

as we sank together on the couch,

then soaked in another molasses Sunday.

 

They are hauling furniture to the moving van. I’m setting

the table as the meatloaf cools.

 

Soon, it will be just you and me again,

left to discover more of this post-altar underground,

while carrying daytime adult business,

and drowsy eyes at the orange-pink

view from the balcony once dusk sets in.

I’m waiting to listen to how we survived another day

as we build more bedrooms,

brick by brick,

catching still life moments fit for the Polaroid

while looking back, but today, you’re kissing

my forehead to sooth my jumpiness when you silently

enter the living room with tulips for the first time

all over again.

The Sitcom Wife

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I was nice to my husband that day,

trying to be what seemed so easy for women

on black and white and Pinterest.

 

I listened to my medication, then organized my head.

Cleaned the car. Folded laundry. Scrubbed

the bathtub with bleach until my fingers grew angry

red from purification. Went to Rouses and actually

bought the stuff he liked (and needed). Then placed

the keys on a hook instead of the fridge (again).

 

…Then the sharp edge of an open cabinet

door dug deep into my scalp as I turned

around and realized I was clumsy and he had a point.

The top of my head turned blood cold

as I  proved my tolerance.

But embarrassment lasts longer than pain.

 

I wouldn’t have had to tell you (or him) this incident,

but a headache stretched into its third day.

I tried to be casual: Just “I bumped

my head in the kitchen on Sunday. ”

 

He wasn’t: “Today is Tuesday…and the first time

I’m hearing about this.”

 

Even after urgent care, I was still casual:

“It’s just a contusion.”

 

It was  now his turn to be nice.

He spooned red beans and rice into a bowl

at home and listened to my pain killer

induced rambling as he held my head in his lap.

 

I think I apologized before falling asleep,

explaining that I can be a traditional wife,

or at least a normal one–just bad at it.

But the drama was dying down, so he could say ,

“Nah. You keep it interesting around here.”

Well

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I think about how easy it would be to stop trying,

throw the orange vial in a junk drawer and forget

about keeping a job,

getting a master’s

waking up to clean the house

comb my hair,

make eye contact

and speak “well” with a stranger.

 

It was easy until I met you. It’s getting harder

to disappoint when you’re watching.