We Don’t Get Along

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This poem is awful. I apologize.

The last thing I want to do is disturb you,

but I have way too many things on my mind.

I visited the hospital recently.

Dad couldn’t speak. He looked at me from the bed

with a glance of regret I recognize well.

“There are so many things I want to tell you,”

his face seemed to say. “I thought I had more time.”

I might have just been standing on his air tube.

The two of us never did see eye to eye.

We haven’t had too many conversations.

The idea that it might be too late now…

He’s recovering, though, and he’ll speak again,

at least according to the doctors. That night,

in a moment of absolute selfishness,

I thought about the last few decades and wept.

Where’d the time go? What have I done with my life?

It feels like so much of it has been wasted

on trivial pursuits and activities

while one thing that might have mattered was ignored.

It’s time to get down to brass tacks, as they say.

One year ago (almost to the day) I did

something incredibly stupid. While moving,

I saw an old yearbook and looked through the thing

for the second time in the last ten years, and

for the first time, I spent more than two minutes

looking at all the people I used to know.

I only got one page past the football team,

initially. Someone was glaring at me

and I felt a pain I hadn’t felt in years.

I remembered how much of a shithead I

was. I remembered how bad it hurt back then

when I couldn’t say a single word to her

and I remembered not being good enough.

Ever since that day, nothing’s seemed to matter…

Suddenly I saw her name everywhere,

as if something was trying to remind me.

Isn’t that completely fucking pathetic?

If someone told me that, I’d roll my damned eyes.

That said, seeing her face helped me realize

there are so many things in life I’ve missed, so…

spare the feelings, spoil the poem. Here goes.

23 years ago something broke my brain.

A change of seating. Humiliation. I’ll

always recall the look on her face that day,

because that was the last time I remember

looking at her. Something snapped and I shut down.

I went mad … completely out of my mind.

The rest of the time I spent there is a blur

and for decades I sleep-walked through life. Rip Van

Winkle mixed with Weekend at Bernie’s. A corpse.

A shell, who never let anyone get close.

I never wanted to feel that pain again,

but there it was, as strong as ever. Stronger,

in fact. Now that I remember, the truth is,

really, all I want to do is talk to her.

I’d like to know what she’s like and what she likes

and see if she’s as impressive as she seems,

but that’s probably not going to happen.

We’re worlds apart, she and I. Total strangers.

One thing I’ll never do is disrupt her life,

at least not intentionally. No letters.

No phone calls. I respect people’s privacy.

I might write about her from time to time, but

she won’t have to worry about me showing

up in a tuxedo carrying flowers.

Yes, my brain is a little insane, but no,

I don’t think we’re supposed to be together.

In fact, it’d almost be comforting to know…

 

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