they ask you to stand at a podium and read them
and you get too nervous
you've already opened yourself up with your fingers
clack clack clacking on a keyboard like morse code
and now they'd like you to open your mouth
push them back out in actual words
so you read them too quickly
and one time, you actually get
just emotional enough
that the floodgates open and you can't be bothered otherwise.
the first story was about possibility
and the things we tell ourselves to justify our inaction
and i couldn't get through the final two paragraphs
without grabbing for air i couldn't find
grasping for straws on which i could lay my head
and it was about you, i think.
the second story was about wasted time
and how we get past the things we tell ourselves
the ways we deal with disappointment
when we do something we think is crazy and stupid and beautiful
but it turns out
to just be crazy.
and i saw her eyes in the heads of everyone in the audience
my new sweater vest clung like saran wrap
(and i had to say the f word around kids
which i was reluctant to do
but hey, those parents shoulda known better)
the third story was about how tired i was of potential
and how promise is wine
it turns to vinegar
i had found a way to get out all of the daydreams
(and the nightdreams)
that made me long for time travel and a log cabin
and horses to ride when we got there
but it was nice to hear my own voice tell stories that hadn't happened
and know that they wouldn't
because i needed more
she was into fiction and poetry
but i think she preferred lies and abstraction
and those were acceptable outlets for both.
these two new stories?
they're about someone else.
no one in them has a name
and i'm just an impartial observer
the first is about how so many of you seem to me
quiet and unassuming, sipping black coffee in bright lights
and sending out begging vibes
that someone would break up the monotony
like summer to an iceberg.
the second was about how it might feel
to see so much around you die
but have so much life in you
and the ways that everything we do is a bandage for some previous wound
and how just because something has a silver lining
doesn't make it a cloud.
i just want these people, these women,
to be happy
and i think they'll be.
#1 finds solace in her solitude
and doesn't need to have someone
but one day
she'll find someone that she needs.
and #2 grows up
to be the best mother-in-law a terrified young man has ever had
and still gets a little lonely sometimes
but her walls are covered
with water-stained picture frames
and moldy macaroni art
that always makes her smile.
in thirty years
#1 and #2 will meet in some coffee shop
and they'll bond over their brand new grandsons
as it turns out
are both named "John"
(for the Baptist)
and they'll both feel that much less alone.
i just hope that maybe someone who's felt that way themselves
like i have
will come across it
and think to themselves
this story is about me."
because who knows.
maybe it is.