I want to tell my mother about the man I have been seeing.
I want her to stop asking about the boy
Whose name is not welcome in my house anymore.
I want to erase the look she had in her eyes
When I sat with her, gulped down a glass of wine, and told her he had left.
I want her to believe I am fine.
Mama, he is a good man.
Kind and funny,
His teeth are white and straight
And his arms are strong.
Mama, he does not drink.
So on the nights when I am lost in nostalgia,
On the nights when I put in my best
To distort the picture of him,
To make him smaller and lighter,
And his arms rougher,
On the nights when I blur my vision just enough
So he might seem like the boy whose voice I am beginning to forget,
You do not have to worry,
I will still get home safe.
Mama, he is a religious man.
Not the kind you wanted for me,
But he still fears God
And gets on his knees five times a day for him.
You will like him for this.
Mama, please stop saying that the boy was right for me
And how nice his family is.
I promise I have done my best,
I promise I have broken my heart, and ribs, and limbs,
In the ways you told me I never should,
For the boy I loved.
Mama, I learned that sacrifice
Is never enough to make someone stay.
Mama, weeks ago he stopped answering,
Months ago he stopped asking what I think and how I feel.
Mama, I think, years ago, I should have seen this coming,
So now that boy would not be the one who got away.
Mama, I understand now
What you mean when you say I have to take care of myself.
I never want to hear you say again
Not to cry so much,
Softly at the end of the telephone conversation,
After I thought no one had heard me last night.
Mama, does it ever stop?
And will I ever be able to be with him without wishing he was someone else?
Mama, I think this is what growing up means,
Giving up on fairytales and believing we would be different from everyone else.
Mama, I think it’s time to put all my poetry books away,
I hate how they made me think that fighting for love is always worth it in the end.
Mama, some mornings I still wake up into a nightmare.
Mama, every day, I swear, I would exchange
The Four Seasons for a tent,
And a passenger seat in that sports car
For the one in that old pickup truck.
Mama, he is a good man,
And you said I should take care of myself.
He looks at me like I shine stardust,
And I am learning not to look away from his gaze.