What I was thinking is not important. I will pass my mid-term examination,
Or fail it just to be with him. He has a car and respects me. I love his new
Haircut. The other girls, what do they matter? All I know is all of him. We’re
Crazy to be this way. I’d like to be an astronomer. Oh, he thinks I can do it,
If I really want to. I didn’t mean not to tell him of my illness. That, too, does
Not matter. At least, not this morning. The lake is so beautiful. It may rain.
My hair predicts it, frizzing with all that electricity. It’s long and black.
Like a wall. Our neighbour’s boy cuts the grass. It’s like a jungle, then it’s
Burnt, the scythe has crisped it like chicken. I keep a diary. Who doesn’t?
I have never been to the mall. Father says I’m not allowed. He doesn’t know
About him. About us. I have bought a bus ticket and a blanket. We’ll go to
Washington, or Richmond. People there will not talk or stare. His hair
Will be my rock, a chiselled stone. I will die, but he will never be alone.
People, especially girls, will never understand why I am with her. They
Say, ‘You have a car, you’ll prosper in this town, why drag yourself down?’
What they mean is that I’ll flunk all of my exams. Well, blow them. I sit
Down by the wharf and wait for my best friend to come around, to admit
That I am right. He does. He’s cool. My brother’s bandanna adorns my
Right arm like a bandage. Okay, so she’s sick. Well, I am too. Of course,
I’d prefer to have been told earlier ñ but would I have felt like kissing her
then? I doubt it. But her lips are sweet. She’s like an old song on the radio. I
Want to be inside her pants but her father is a Reverend. That dulls the
Motivation, though not the desire. I feel strange in my body when she
Is near. At night I sneak out into the backyard to roll on the ground, naked.
Noone hears me, or would ever believe. Traffic banks up. Our summer endures.
I built her a telescope. I’ll never leave. I’d do a better job at cutting her lawn.
They come and go. This library is one form of alibi. They rarely kiss, but once
I caught their legs entangled beneath a desk. I smiled and passed by. Who’d
Believe me anyway? At least they’re reading books. Pretending to, I’d say.
Reverend inquires after his daughter’s borrowing habits but I never need to lie.
She’s a cataloguer of looks in that boy’s eyes. She’ll pass, then die. I’m not so
Sure about him. Destined for the trades, as they say. Love’s completely passed
Me by. I ride a pushbike home. A simple salad satisfies me. Evenings are best
For reading on the front porch. I pay him to cut my grass, tend the hedges.
He comes once a week, on Saturday. I’m usually out. You know, shopping. Perhaps
He brings her there, into the yard, by the pond. Oh, they make love, I’m sure of it.
Good luck to them. One less burnt star in a sky full of dead relationships. Comets
Pass over us, even in our sleep. I never need to look. Down the jungled avenues
I skate, in my dreams. I’m wearing nothing. There’s an itching in my ear, like a worm.
Damn her, and her busybody glances. I’m no one and she should know. I’ve sworn
Off love, since my wife disappeared. Or, at least that’s what I tell her daughter,
Now that we are talking again. I fired that boy who couldn’t mow the lawn straight.
He’d been making advances. I know you’ll both understand. I found a bus ticket in
Her underpants. Don’t ask me why I was there. A trip to England will be good for
Her. Maybe I’ll take up golf again. Anything to get away from Miss Concerned. She
Spends too much time there, in the library. Oh, I know she means well but I also know
She’s covering for my daughter’s illicit meetings. That are contrary to God’s will,
Not to mention me. Reputation is a farce. No longer can I walk down the street and
Feel decent. They’re all laughing at me. I look up at the trees and they have grown
Taller than powerlines. I remember when they were first planted. Love’s a jungle.
I should know. My love was an Amazon, once. She never said the same in return.
She only said she understood Antarctica. Perhaps that’s why she left. Now I yearn.
Two dollars an hour to cut down a jungle ñ some salary! I used my magnifying glass
Instead, creating an inferno of my own to get the job done fast. I had other things
To do anyway, like reading porno mags, and setting off crazy jacks under the stairs,
From where I looked up her skirt. She’s nothing to me. As for that squirt, her secret
Boyfriend ñ well, who cares? No one would believe me if I told them what she gets up
To, when her dad’s at his crummy church. Religion is not my thing. I prefer the world
Of men. My father silently approves. As he should ñ he showed it to me first. Down by
The lagoon, we watched from the reeds as two girls stripped off their shirts. I’ll let
You imagine the rest yourself. I’m sure he told you already. Little do they know, those
Goodie-two-shoes brats, what this world has in store for them. They’ll soon learn.
I hear she’s sick. That’s too bad. I mean it. My mother went the same way, years ago.
Now I play baseball. If I impress the scouts I might get a scholarship. You never know.
Anything to get out of this dump. Well, I’d better go. I’ve got things to do, places to go.
I live in a town called Feminine Hygiene. I’m sick of sorry cocks. And balls. Jesus!
Don’t start me talking about him. Oh, well. It was time for me to leave and, anyway,
She deserved better. That’s why I ran. He liked to rant and rave about jungles and
Mosquitoes, about books. I suspect, though, he secretly adored that librarian. What
Was her name? It doesn’t matter. Nothing does. My own sorry childhood, my so-
Called teenage years ñ well, you could make a movie about it but I doubt that
People would pay to see it. Or perhaps they would. The frantic liaisons under
Great oaks, the shimmering ponds. All true and equally retarded. A boy with
A hot rod, a girl in a pleated skirt – well, you couldn’t script it. Method acting is
An undervalued art. I practice it often. This pleases me: to walk out into some
Empty street after dark, wearing nothing underneath an old cloak. To feel summer
Flirting with me. To feel that numberless love. I’ll get them all. Like a doctor does.
I am an empty wallet. No one wants that. I guess that’s why we all grow old. Pity.
My name is love but I don’t deserve it. The name, that is. In truth, I’m forever
Trying to beat your hatred off with this stick I leave beside my bed, which is
Also love, full of loving. Full of sex. Like a teenage girl or a pond. As mosquitoes
Hover and swarm, so too do I fly by night, through the cooling streets, seeking you,
Seeking the two of you, finding couples, setting lonely hearts on a loving course.
They crash into each other and I laugh. Because I’m like that. Like the movies
We used to watch together, under the rug. Perhaps you don’t remember. I can’t help
It. I’ve memorised love like a script that keeps changing, forcing me to ad-lib, to
Prowl the stage, waiting for the prompt That never comes in time to beat your
Silence. That, I hate. Despite my destiny, my curse of love, I am quite capable of
Hating you. I’d prefer not to, of course. The theme music swells to the rhythm
Of the teenage couple’s lovemaking and I know the end is near. Please, stay with
Me for a moment. Feel my beating love. I’m sorry. Don’t you dare say goodbye.