NOTE: I often write persona poems because they force me to embody another person's point-of-view, and that creates more of a challenge for me. But in this case, all three of these poems are true to my own life, and I thank my daughter, mother and first-ever boyfriend for inspiring them.
I am 14 and the first boy to kiss me
on a porch in summer rain
will dump me, only I don’t know
that yet. When exiled across
Lake Michigan due to my parents’
vacation to Mexico, I’ll seat myself
cross-legged in a field of Queen
Anne’s Lace and write a letter
to him while he is back home
kissing my best friend.
When I return, all telephones
will ring unclaimed in hushed
houses, windows will be painted
shut, the high noon sun, never
Forty years later, he will tell me
he remembers receiving my letter
and I will understand, at last,
the plight of Faithful Flora
surviving on the pixie dust
of memory and promise;
turncoat Karlene enthralled
by her reflection in his eyes;
this teenage boy himself whose
appetite could not be stalled
by a square of inked-up paper.
ON THE EVE
OF OUR 35TH
I visit our daughter and discover
that her boyfriend leaves town
to see another lover
when her other boyfriend
comes around to see her.
The four of them don’t mind
they are no one’s priority.
You can’t expect the same person
to fulfill your everything
her Google calendar employed
to track whom and when and where.
What of herself she chooses
to share, these men are willing
So, what about having somebody
central in your life? I ask
wondering how I’ll explain all this
to her dad when I get home.
But she’s attending to messages
bulging inside her phone, filing
some in the ‘tomorrow’ box, others
for even later, seated straight
in the saddle, hands gripping
My mother who refutes, rebukes
my efforts to suggest she do
anything other than what she wants;
who is intransigent in her convictions
no matter what they are,
and when warned not to meddle
in my dying father’s wishes,
did so regardless, does defer
to a claim I made, acknowledge
I was right, so chose not to pay
to get flowers engraved upon
his headstone once I said he’d left
for good, was not hanging around,
had better things to do.
Think of Elliot, Gunther, Larry,
and Franz with whom he’d rendez-
vous; they’d all gone before him.
And somehow that got through.
Somehow my mother finally believed
I knew what I was talking about.
© 2019 Shoshauna Shy
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