Monday, June 17, 2013

The Silent Girlfriend Sonnets


He takes her everywhere, except where she
   Can speak her mind, so she smiles and plays dumb.
She loves him dearly, so she tries to be
  What he can love, and that means keeping mum.
Hers is a concert of songs never sung
   Because the Maestro’s rule must not be broken:
All thoughts must live ten floors above her tongue
   And never make it down to where they’re spoken.
And though it makes her think that she was cast
   To be seen and not ever, ever, heard,
She’ll play the part and hold her tongue long past
   The point where other girls would say a word
      And dream, dream, of when she can verbalize
      The world that lies behind her word-filled eyes.

She sits beside the driver of the car,
   Leans on his shoulder from the highway shoulder
Where his car sits, and wonders if there are
   Relationships that don’t feel like a boulder.
She sees the engine trouble; he ignores it.
   She tries a jump start; nothing comes alive.
And every time she takes the wheel and floors it,
   He says, “Slow down!” or tells her how to drive.
Idle now on the roadside, she can see
   Nothing but open highways far and wide,
And in this airless, joyless Ford Capri
   She dreams of reaching out to thumb a ride
      And just be driven anywhere at all
      As long as it’s a car that will not stall.

She lies there with a boulder on her chest,
   The one with his name on it, and feels cursed.
She breathes, and feels that boulder squeeze the best
   Of her away, leaving behind the worst.
She stares up at the ceiling as she tries,
   Tries to remember how it felt to hope,
Back when the world was laughter and not sighs,
   Back when she wasn’t such a fucking dope.
She thinks: “Inertia.  That’s what keeps me here--
   The lifeless weight that comforts you and drains
Your fighting soul away, until you fear
   The brave revolt more than the coward’s chains.
      Enough.  Before this gets one second older?
      It’s time,” and then she smiles.  “Time to live bolder.”

But when she up and reaches for the door,
   He reaches out to her--and that one thing
Erases all he’s never done before
   And makes each silent mouth inside her sing.
Gone are the words he’s never said or meant--
   Gone are the kindnesses he’s never done--
Gone are the doubtful clouds of discontent:
   All banished by one single flash of sun.
The part of her that needs love to feel whole
   Melts at his touch, and makes her bold self see
His need for her as caring, not control.
   She cries: “He cares!  He really cares for me!”
     Her heart explodes like a July 4th sky
     And says to freedom, and not him, goodbye.

And so the endless days and nights crawl by--
   The endless hopes, the endless disapproving--
And she finds comfort in the constant lie
   That all this back and forth is really moving.
But it goes nowhere, and the strength it takes
   To keep it where it is wears out her soul
So much that what she cannot feel she fakes,
   Pretending that her broken hopes are whole.
She knows that what she's doing is a choice;
   She knows she’s living in a house that’s haunted.
But all her verbs are in the passive voice
   And all she wants is foiled by being wanted.
     All it would take is one “Goodbye!” to live
     But all it takes is more than she can give.

  *  *  *  *  *
Years from now, looking back, she’ll wonder why
   It took so long for her to see the truth.
She’ll try to look her past self in the eye,
   And see a canyon inbetween her youth
And her today--a chasm that prevents
   Her from revisiting the desert that
She called home once: a waste of makeshift tents
   And heights that now, from this side, all look flat.
There is no common ground between her and
   The girl she used to be--she’s moved so far
From her that she can barely understand
   She lived those years like flies trapped in a jar.
      She’ll sigh with wonder; then she’ll wonder how
      Her future self will look back at her now . . .

Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells




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