1990s · Healing the Heart of Ophelia · Poetry · Unanchored

Last and Final Poem to N.L.

I loved you
I admit it two years
Since we last spoke
Your potato chip voice
And bony hands
The way you grouped your fingers
At your mouth
And your big off-center teeth
I loved the way you got into your car
Like a grown up with limbs too long
The way you walked into the grocery store
As awkward as a Muppet’s legs
You and your rail thin body
And old man’s clothes
I loved your shoes
The blue One Stars
And green Vans
I loved the way you couldn’t look me in the eye
The way you never took your hat off in three years
And wore glassed on your tiny head
We were children in our grown up bodies
So we went to parks at midnight
And climbed fences in schoolyards
I loved that you still skated at twenty-two
That you liked stickers and sugary Kool-Aid
I loved that you cut my hair
And painted pictures
I only saw once
That you watched G-Force
And lent me taped episodes
Even more, I loved your music
The ones you loved
You gave me Dinosaur Jr.
And the Wedding Present
You read James Joyce and
Introduced me to Holden Caulfield
(Your secret alias)
Your random letters
And indirect thoughts
I overlooked your snobbery
Your cruel remarks
I hoped to be as good as I saw you
Exclusive and without remorse
I loved the way you resisted me
I loved that you spoke to me for hours
On the telephone
I loved you then
For leaving me without apology
For digging this pit in my heart
For watching with me
The train pass deafening loud
And fingers clenched on the chain fence
You said it made you feel empty
I loved you for those words
For hating my poetry
And ridiculing my insecurities
I loved you
I know you did not understand
You thought me unimaginative
I thought you good and hateful and real
I loved you for the tiny things
Like smelly car fresheners
And emails about diluting ice
But you gave the most unkind cut
Words of detest and spite
You, who loved cartoons and butter tortillas
You did not love me
You repulsed at my weakness
Without remorse or hesitation
You broke clean of me
And I was left with your letters
And musical taste
Left with the emptiness of passing trains
Bootleg copies of foreign films
A heart gouged and affected
Left with these descriptive words
And useless opinions
This is to be your last poem
The last time I love you this way
The last of you haunting me
The last conclusion in these memories
But you knew then what my honesty was
A moment’s passing thought
You thought my sentiment cheap
I know now, you were so wrong

Originally published in The Long Beach Union (CSULB), 3-20-00
Also appeared in Healing the Heart of Ophelia, 2001


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