For fuck’s sake listen by Joan Hawkins

For fuck sake’s listen

Often when I tell someone 
my husband was 20 years
older than me
I can feel them 
My life
to a cliché.

So let's get it out of the way
I was not his student.
Except in the sense that all
lovers are students
because the ones we love
teach us something about 
love and ourselves
that we didn't know
Every man's semen
tastes different
And every sexual relationship
has its unique signature 
of improvisational 
that each lover has
to learn
But I got no grades or
promotions for taking
that particular class.

And he was not a father figure.
So put your Oedipal fantasies aside.
They're all mixed up with a whole
 bunch of other assumptions, anyway.
See my dad had a serious heart
attack right after I was born.
He was dying for most of my life
a frail man- not some handsome Byronic figure
that I wanted to take away from
and it's true=I adored him
But I certainly wasn't looking to
recreate that experience
-taking care of a dying man-
the morning I met Skip.
And you see Skip was not my father's age.
He was my brother's.
That's a whole other mythology.
So put that Daddy fixation story
back up on the shelf.
Our parents--
Skip's and mine- were roughly the 
same age.
We had more in common
than you can possibly imagine.
Children of Depression-era parents, 
we both hoarded string and bits of
aluminum foil
Like it could all dry up tomorrow
Knew a lot of the same songs,
called the frig
the icebox.

When I met Skip
I had a whole history 
of hurtful love affairs 
behind me
and I thought I was through
with love and trying to be 
someone else's
idea of Joan.
He was trailing the wreckage of
a bad marriage
also sick of trying to measure up
to someone else's dream.
We eyed each other-- there was
 but we were wary
as 2 boxers caught up in the ropes.

Our first date- two months later- 
we went to City Lights- 
drawn by inclination
to different parts of the store.
He stayed downstairs- foot propped up on
the table
smoking cigarettes,
reading a play by Lorca. 
I sat on the floor upstairs, coat fanning out
around me-- lost in a 19th century
"Doesn't sound like much of a date,"
my friend Allison said.
But she didn't understand
how energy could swirl around
that store-- bringing
zephyrs of smoke and 
total immersion from
one floor to another.
How sometimes you can touch
without much proximity at all.

On our second date, he drove out behind
Golden Gate Park
Stopped the car and said
there was a letter in the
glove compartment.
He sat and waited
while I read what 
he couldn't or wouldn't tell me
-that he was falling in love.
"So what do you want to do?" he asked
when I finished reading
-gruff as hell--
"Do I take you to lunch and we talk,
or do I take you home?"
I told him I was hungry and too broke
to buy my own meal.
And yes, Chinese would be fine.

We were together 37 years
up and down through good times
and bad
Always drawn to different stories,
he with his foot propped on the table 
me sitting on the floor, coat fanning out 
around me,
but always hell-bent on coming 
back together 
meeting on some mutual floor.
And talking-always talking-
nine to the dozens
about our singular 

This year is the 10th anniversary of his death
He stays so close, I can feel his breath sometimes.
And I still get those questions-
that look when people
ask how we met? how old was he?
 who introduced us?
That look that says they think
they know something.
They think they know something
about me.
Well they don't know shit.

So I wrote this poem to say
that when a woman tells you she
married an older man, loves an older man
don't assume she was-or is- a trophy wife,
or a student in the front row hanging on his
every word,
or an Oedipally addled young thing
looking for Daddy.
to what the fuck 
she tells you
about her life. Listen 
for the love.

Oct 8, 2022

Bio: Joan Hawkins is a writer and spoken word performer, who focuses mainly on creative memoir.  Her  poetry and prose have appeared in Avalanches of Poetry, Fevers of the Mind, the Performing Arts Journal, Plath Profiles, and Sand.

Two poems are forthcoming in a special poetry issue of The Ryder Magazine. She and Kalynn Brower have co-edited an anthology called Trigger Warnings, which contains one of Joan’s stories; it’s currently under consideration by Indiana University Press. “My Writing Teacher”  comes from a manuscript in progress– School and Suicide.

Joan lives in Bloomington, IN with her cat Izzy Isou. She is currently the Chair of the Writers Guild at Bloomington.

By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1


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