Poly without drama; there’s a group for it
I almost joined, tired of the intensity
of complicated love. In our twenties
we had the energy to communicate

with words and bodies too, we poured our time
into each other; counted ourselves rich.
We weren’t wrong, but swimming against
society’s tide can be exhausting.

Small wonder, if you broke under the strain,
relationships pushed past patience, hope. Love
is limitless, but time is a finite resource.
When I met him, the first thing that I said:

‘I have no time for new relationships.’
That didn’t last, and so we reconfigured
our complex lives to make room, rewarded
by shared passions: literary, and otherwise.

I have been gifted more than my fair share
of patient, thoughtful, brilliant men.
Trust me, I know. You would think that I
would simply thank my lucky stars but it

isn’t simple, is it? Where shall we live,
and will there be children; will you
still want me when I am wrinkled and
impatient? Then it got harder.

The children almost broke us. Months
of broken sleep and no time, no energy
for anything but getting through; this too
shall pass, and it does. Finally, they sleep;

their dad and I are stronger, sweeter, than
we ever were, but *he* stood outside that
charmed familial circle, left in the cold,
waiting until I had room, had heart

for him again. It was a long wait,
subsisting on affection’s crumbs as I
failed to explain why everything between
us had suddenly gone weird and fraught.

Maybe there is something biological
there, that pushes us towards pair-bonding.
I couldn’t tell him, didn’t know the answer.
Maybe it was just exhaustion.

Energy is a finite resource too.
Years passed, the children grew,
then just as they headed off
to school, cancer hit, a tornado

wreaking devastation, swallowing
time and energy. My body
betraying me in so many ways
and now, years later still, I struggle with

the changes wrought, fight not to see myself
as ugly. For so long, I couldn’t bear
to be touched; it must have broke their hearts,
desperate to help. Helping by letting

me be, to heal, in my own slow time.
Finally, I am coming back to myself,
recognizing the girl who loved him then
loved them both, and others too, sweet souls —

love is not a finite resource. Twenty
years gone by, but love ran through, a river
buried under rockfalls, but running still,
muted from a roar to a trickle

and it still surprises me that he
didn’t give up. ‘It would have been so easy
to give up on me,’ I say, grateful and
bewildered. ‘It wouldn’t have been so easy,’

he replies. Fair enough, love.
I could say the same, exactly.

for my Jed,
on our twentieth anniversary;
sorry this poem is a little late;
thanks for waiting.

2 thoughts on “TWENTY”

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