STARTING OUT

I liked us so much better when we slept face to face in summer,

windows open in old houses with attic fans,

listening to the applause of leaves for all we were doing,

for what we hoped someday to do,

Tom and Marilyn next door walking over

after they put their girls to bed,

our boy wrestling against the railings of his crib,

the chains of the front porch swing screechingin regular rhythm,

a single beer before bed,wishing for money enough

just to be ourselves,

a trip to Las Vegas,

another one day to New Orleons and beyond,

going inside to play a fast hand of gin rummy,

slamming down cards until one a.m.,

groaning about getting up early for work,

coffee not yet made,grinning with jokes, with plans.

 

What we planned was to be with each other forever,

add a daughter to the son or any wild card,

have boiled shrimp parties with corn on the cob and new potatoes,

grill T-bones with funny friends,

baste ribs while little ones chased fireflies because

tomorrow was Saturday

and we could sleep in each others arms

until they clamored from the next room

of their hunger and their need for us.

 

That’s what we planned

those nights on the front porch,

the breezes inspiring our hair,

the sky so clear we thought stars always had the last say.

 

That’s what we planned

curving endlessly through

privileged neighborhoods

searching for a dream house:

wood burning fireplace,

backyard big enough for a deck,

a swing set for the kids,

space enough for volleyball and croquet,

a planting shed, tomato plants,

rows of corn along a tall back fence.

 

That’s what we planned

waking in the middle of the night,

me already deep inside you,

not knowing who woke first or how it began.

We never planned to wake in middle age

a thousand miles apart

in air conditioned bedrooms

with someone else

we hadn’t even met back then.

 

That’s not how our first kiss felt.

That’s not why

we scouted Saturday after Saturday afternoon

for an antique armoire we could refinish together.

That’s not really us.

 

That’s not how we started out

or why the children learned to hate us

or why our whole world changed.

 
 
 
 
 

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