My Mother's Boyfriends

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All my mother's boyfriends
do different kinds of stuff.
Some build me tables out of plywood,
stay for a while on school-nights,
and bring their kids around to play tag and four-square
with rubber balls, chalk, and conversations.
This was when I was younger,
and I thought that having a man in my life
would fill some kind of hole,
and I bonded with these floating strangers.

Some bring twelve-packs over,
act short-tempered over the phone,
possessive and jealous,
rush into getting engaged,
or kick their dogs in their front lawn.
These kinds don't stay for long at all.

Some bring food and cook-out,
some leave condoms in our car and empty coffee cups,
and the others meet us at the pool,
where I have to sit in a bathing suit
in the sun, people, crowded spaces,
and listen to them flirting,
licking their lips like lions circling a nice, fat zebra,
laughing uproariously at the least amusing things,
their horny-electricity making my hair frizzy,
so sickening that I have to run and jump into the water
so I can scream with my mouth wide open,
chlorine rushing in.

My mother doesn't date much, I want to be fair.
She doesn't get drunk and bring men home,
ever, she looks for men who are
honest
mature
sensitive
progressive
feminist,
but she has never, ever found a man who is really
any inkling of these things,
so I guess she has to settle for what she can find in Kansas City.
This isn't f***ing California.

And I am sad that she is not happy,
so I want her to have boyfriends,
online profiles and flirtatious texts,
but I don't understand how that could make her happy,
these lanky, un-fufilling guys
who have astrology tattoos,
children with crooked teeth,
and talk about trips that they took 10 years ago.
They make me bored and uncomfortable.

But I also don't think she could understand how I could be happy
with a girl who smells like the ocean water,
wears knitted hats, collects tattoos on her arms and legs,
and paints with delicate flicks
crouched in the early morning window-sill light,
so I want to be fair.





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