Mistook a man for a boy
once – married, realized
error, buried self in misery.
We were just nineteen.
My son is quite athletic:
quarterback, downhill racer,
musical, too – we expected
great things – a doctor, lawyer.
He laid in bed till two, rose,
reclined on couch, amassed
piles of litter around him,
while I worked two jobs.
Recruited by the drama coach,
he made a wonderful leading
man – handsome, rugged looks,
a certain charm to his smile.
We didn’t consummate – I’m
not sexy enough, he said –
although he seemed to eye
the friend that kept him up …
He met this girl – she was
a year ahead of him – leading
lady – suddenly, he’s going out,
needs a car, gets a job –
He bought a slot car – joined
a club, raced in our basement
till 3 am – men with tiny cars-
going nowhere fast, I reeled…
She was years ahead of him –
left home at seventeen, knew
independence, responsibility –
a go-getter, highly energetic.
He couldn’t hold a job – excelled
at failure – unwilling to settle for
second best – I took on a boarder
to maintain the status quo.
We liked her all right – fit in-
like the daughter I never had,
but when they said they were
getting married – what to say?
I booked us a getaway – plan
to reconnect, ignite a spark,
instead we fought – he said
it was so easy for me – what?
He dropped out of school, took
a job at a bank – would-be manager
– sounded promising -let go a month
before the date- unfortunate.
I started staying out after hours
hanging with men – platonic;
anything to avoid the coldness
of home – an emotional void.
We told him he could call it
off – wasn’t too late. He was
still a child – so much of life
to experience yet – why not?
Tried talking to his parents,
they said he needed a career,
not just any job – wanted him
to be somebody – I exploded.
The wedding was extravagant,
such a waste of money, really –
an embarrassment for us, but
we smiled and acted pleased.
It’s okay for the slut to work
sixteen hour days, is that it?
Nothing’s good enough for
your son – but okay for me?
We had them for dinners
Sundays – a happy ritual –
kept our eye on them, could
see the tension building.
Kicked him out before second
anniversary – either work or
leave, said I – he left – home
to mom’s couch I assumed.
He’s really still a child, my son,
needs his mother, needs to
ripen, too young to be plucked
from the vine – give it time.
Half the furniture and all
the debt and I feel like a
failure – used, betrayed,
who’ll want me now?
I worry about him – never see
him – wonder where he spends
his time – is he warm, fed, is
someone washing his clothes?
Someone does want me –
shares my dreams, opportunity
for a new life – but I can’t find
ex – shunning divorce, he hides.
He comes to Sunday dinners now
with a new woman at his side –
a soft-spoken country gal, polite
enough – I somehow miss the first.
His parents won’t tell me where
he is – hire a detective – need
to serve papers – be free of this
blemish on my heart – move on.
I ask him what his plans are, he
shrugs, looks away. Have you
divorced? No, Mom – nothing is
settled – still just a boy, really.
I find him at his mother’s house –
Sunday dinner – the new woman
at his side – as if nothing happened
as if my life had not been destroyed.
She was big as a house when she
came – in a hurry, of course – getting
re-married, having a child, leaving
him behind – always such drama.
It’s an old story now, child’s play –
two not-quite adults making poor
decisions – no one to blame –
I had always like his mother.
She dropped by today, to say
hello, heard I was ill, wanted to
apologize – strange child really,
old in some ways, lost in others.
Can the past ever be undone?
They were good people really –
undeserving of my recklessness,
unwittingly caught up in my pain.
We didn’t know what hit us,
I laughed – you were so full of life,
but he wasn’t ready, timing was off
for the life you were craving.
Is he happy? I ask (not mentioning
the fraud charges – saw it in the news)
I’m glad he found someone (did they
find the love that we had missed?)
He’s fine, I tell her, had his share
of tribulations – as we all do – (don’t
say he was just here this weekend
thinking about divorce – still failing.)
I wonder that she’s never moved,
still keeps this house of empty rooms,
hollow dreams echoing in the hallway,
has she found contentment in her life?
She leaves, and the warmth goes with
her – always full of sunshine despite
the rain – I let her go – like I did before –
the tempest who changed our lives.