You wake up beside her
In her little house
Full of plants and books
And a cat (which you've
Never seen.)
And realize that she doesn't
Need you, you are just a
A minor incident in her
Larger picture and that
Really if you are there or
Not it doesn't matter,
And she knows it.
You met her three nights
Ago in a public place,
Argued, chatted and
Eventually she took
You home to this little
Place, a quiet haven
In plain sight in the
Middle of a run-down
Neighborhood with
Junked cars on the
Street and bald lawns
Where once there were
Rose gardens.
She opened the door
And let you in where
You had coffee with her
Before the two of you
Knocked over stacks
Of books, disrupted
The life of the cat
And flattened
A few Boston ferns
With your wrestling
Half in and out of
Your clothes, the two
Of you, engaged in
Grownup fun.
Even then you had
The feeling that
Though she moved
Beneath you as
The two of you
Danced a slow
Tango across the
Carpet of her living
Room among half
Finished paintings
And part of an
Airplane wing, that
She was somewhere else-
Somewhere you weren't.
Somewhere you couldn't be.
Afterwards the two
Of you in a comfortable
Tangle beneath an afghan
Just sort of talked, nothing
Serious, poetry, the weather,
The price of cigarettes-
And you still noticed that
She wasn't there, not like
All the women you've ever
Had before.
They were always needy,
They needed you, for
Strength, support,
Or prestige-
Having someone who
Looks like you is
A victory in many
Women's eyes.
She was also brutally
Honest without hesitation.
She told you to put out
Your cigarette or stand
Out in her back yard
In the rain if you wanted
To smoke. She said
You needed a bath.
You needed to shave.
She looked at herself
In the mirror and told
You that she knew what
You were, and that looks
Can only get you so far,
Hell, she should know.
It pissed you off,
This honesty so you did
Everything you could to
Prove her otherwise,
Bringing out your best
For which she thanked you
Somewhat distantly but
Fondly, still, no dice.
Feeling like you were
Auditioning for a play
That you knew you had
No chance in Hell in
Getting a part in,
You continued-
Even to the point where
You tried to show her
That sex wasn't the only
Thing you were good for.
She thanked you fondly
But distantly, until you
Asked her, "What does
It take?"
And she replied,
"Be yourself.
Otherwise,
You don't interest
Me."
Which was weird, this is
You. It's always been you.
You've always had someone
Dependant on you. Either
They started out that way
Like your mother, or you
Saw to it that they were by
The time you were done
With them – and all she
Said was "Be yourself."
So you lie here staring
At the ceiling of her little
House in a bad neighborhood,
Full of plants, books and perhaps
A cat, presumed Siamese,
Wondering, "Where do I
Even begin?"
After a while you get up,
Pull on your trousers,
Then your shirt, your
Boots, knowing that
Once you leave it will
Be as if you were never here,
You step outside and light
Up as the last of the sunset
Fades away, "Where do I
Even begin?" You
Pack your crap onto
The back of your bike
And climb aboard.
She comes out in one
Of your shirts, that you
Forgot to pack in your
Kit, with a cup of coffee
In each hand.
She barefoots it
Across the ragged
Grass and hands one to you.
The two of you stand
Side by side, not as lovers,
Not as dependants, not as…
Well, what?
After a while you hand
Her the empty mug back
And you stand there looking
At her with her sex tousled
Hair, just for another minute
Before you venture a quick
Kiss, which she smiles at wryly,
You step back, still off balance
Watching her face, thinking
"Where do I even begin?"
Ten minutes later you're back
On the Interstate, headed
East for no real good reason
Other than that's the way
The next real town is,
Remembering what
You saw over your
Shoulder as you looked
Back at her, engine idling.
Her lips moved,
Saying, "Just be yourself."
Before she turned and went
Back into her house with her
Books and plants and possible
Cat, and closed the door
Behind her.