for Claire Montrose
The one I loved? The last time we kissed, he stroked my chin
And fed on my mouth like a starving man. I remember the night and his lips.
Some believe in bad luck; they feel they can never win.
I think we both felt that way: belief in bad luck, a gene, we both inherited.
Our love was too good to be true, we felt, so in our minds our love had to end.
And it did end, with great pain, and our genes proved they were right.
True, it was not meant to last, since it was forbidden and dangerous.
I worry too much; I once saw a parent unconcerned as her young son walked on a wall
Above the sea; if I were as blithe as that, I would have clear skin and fifty boyfriends.
Now I have bad skin and no boyfriends, though I am especially beautiful, some say.
The one I loved wanted sex more than I did; this gets tiring after a while;
I have a bag of chips theory: the man wants sex often, so the bag is gone in a week;
For me, the bag will last two months; he eats chips out of love for me,
Perhaps, but I resent having to buy a new bag all the time;
The difference in appetite begins to wear you down;
I finally got annoyed, and thought, if you want sex so much, go have it with somebody else;
I want to be loved for who I am, not for beauty and sex all the time.
Love for women is social; we want to be loved for more than sex.
It’s like this: when a tight sock leaves a mark on my leg, a hot stream of water
In the tub aimed at my leg gives me the most exquisite pleasure,
But I don’t spend my days thinking about this pleasure;
The sensation is very, very nice, but trivial; when I start to feel
The most important thing to him is getting in the tub for that hot stream of water,
I don’t care how loving and charming he is, or that he wants me
There in the tub with him—I get sick of his addiction to pleasure; I pretty much told him,
Oh for Christ’s sake! I’m sick of this routine! Get in the tub with someone else!
He was horrified, of course; heartbroken, couldn’t understand, wondered
What he had done wrong, he thought I loved someone else, and this
Just got me even more annoyed, and I should have tried to explain,
But you can’t—I only came up with the bag of chips theory later.
But I was so annoyed and so sick of it all; without a word I dumped him.
At the time I was furious, and it felt good; he was helpless, I was helpless,
But still I felt like I was doing something that had to be done.
I told myself: I’ll have new chips every six months, maybe when I’m drunk,
But you can’t plan spontaneity. And I don’t want to take the time to find out
How many chips someone is going to want to eat: it would become the same thing.
He doesn’t know how I’m doing, because we never speak.
Now, the danger gone, the celibate years have gone by, and he hasn’t a clue, I’m sure,
Why our beautiful love died; we really loved each other—but he was crazy for me, I think;
He wrote me poem after poem, and when he kissed me in the moonlight
I knew I was making him very happy; I said he was the only thing that mattered,
And I guess, in a way, that was true; love is just a silly pleasure for me, though;
The fact that I was not as intense as he was just urged him on, and made him jealous
And passionate; I would be lying if his passion did not fire me up sometimes
And there were moments when I wanted him deeply, but I couldn’t shake the idea
That love was just a crazy thing, and, finally, kind of silly.
I loved him as best as I could; he wrote me thousands of poems
And isn’t that just as silly, really? They are just words, after all;
And his poetry was a way of escaping me, too; he didn’t have to say it:
I knew he wanted fame and admiration from other places; sure, he did.
So I don’t want to pretend that his love was all that pure; my lips
Were there for him to kiss; I’m sure he thought of other lips;
What was all that imagination for, anyway? And are these poems mine?
When I die and they put the few possessions I own in a box, poems in that box
Will not be mine; they will be his. I did the right thing. I’m glad the one I loved
Is not here to see me age, my mouth fading above my chin.
My face is one thing he especially loved. He was always writing about “beauty.” Crazy.
I was right. Our love took us to heights neither of us were meant to win.
When I do die, and they put my things in a box, I know the world will quickly forget me.
If he still thinks of me—we live close to each other, by the sea—
The idea of me simply disappearing is probably what makes him saddest of all.
I can see him, alone, on this sunny day, maybe walking a long peninsula,
Hiding his tears from the t-shirted tourists,
While here I am—now plain and gray—just across the inlet, in the yard, pulling weeds.
Sure, we have many memories, but what else can I say?
It’s too emotional, and I want my peace, and I’m sure
He’ll write a poem or two about it, so in the end, we’ll be okay.