I don’t meet expectations, no kitchen Goddess, an empty womb, no man to call my own (and would I, even call him that? Because no one is really anyone’s, I know this now), that shorn head, these unbendable toes, that flashing temper and tooth-pick legs, the sudden cheek-flushing embarrassment and the quietness now set in. The river goes on. The horizon still a line in the distance. Pick up a paddle and row. I’m up on the shelf and down on the ground. I choke too quickly, that narrow throat. And then that desperate desire to hide it all. Bundle up everything, carry the sheets, send them in cattle-trucks to Siberia.
I took the wrong train at the right station. I made the wrong jokes and cringed with the shame. My small talk too small. Not long, elegant, confident. Not long legs in high heels. Only tooth-picked points. Except, that one time, when every piece in every part fit. That moment, the open window in a stuffy room. I wasn’t good enough and I was more than enough. Too proud, too humble, too cruel, too kind. I don’t meet expectations. My story too much like anyone else’s. The story of expectations that no one can meet, of grand weddings and perfect marriages and beautiful children and happy endings. No place for the corners, the fumblings of faith, the guilt and the loss and the way life can plunge you in the sea. Mermaids underwater.
I don’t meet expectations. No man to call my own,
(and I wouldn’t call him that anyway).
My endings too unfinished, they all say,
too blunt, too raw, too unprepared,
like your paintings, that’s what G Miller, said.
But I hate endings and conclusions and stories that must end, of course I’m lazy too. I forgot to mention that. And if I felt ancient at 24, I feel like paper leaves now. Paper leaves, we mermaids underwater.
Such terrible endings, but I warned you already.