PASSED NOTES & POEMS: It Could Be Different
It Could Be Different
He says it could be different. We could be friends;
don’t have to barter, love for skin. He’ll prove
the existence of benevolent men,
desire, rejection, frustration removed.
You won’t believe him. It sounds like a line.
It will take a year of his time before
it feels unconditional, genuine,
love daydreamed, 12-year old mind. Mentor
who celebrates each of your wins, breathless
retellings now and again. Would not flirt.
Cannot chance losing someone who cares. Mess,
of tears, you read it, in Target, tennis skirt
his guilty message goodbye, day it ends,
leaves like a lover — you thought was a friend.
It’s hard to be friends with men. Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of male acquaintances, lots of male interest in my socks, my pictures, my persona. This is not the same thing as a man who only sees you as a soul, a brain, a talent, a child who didn’t get loved.
I think this is what they call unconditional love – the kind you associate with a parent. I really wouldn’t know about that. Oh, I had parents, but I had none of that fabled unconditional love. To me, it’s as imaginary and elusive as a fairy tale.
It’s why I look for parent replacements in people. Whether people want to fill that role for me or not, people that evoke paternal or maternal energy tease the child in me that never received it the regular way.
Sometimes I see writers I admire on Twitter tweet a picture of their parent at a poetry reading or holding their book. It’s probably, to many people, a very common beautiful moment -- sharing your accomplishments with your parents. I have never had that and never will – not with my parents.
They are alive. They don’t know that I write. We hardly talk. When any of my books were accepted for publication, I never got to make an excited phone call or share a book cover and hear someone say, “I’m so proud of you.” “I’m more excited about this than you are.”