Regular Poem: Why Wouldn’t I

2 Apr

“But why,”
he says
“did you do all those extracurriculars in high school?”

We’re just
chit-chatting, safe
work talk,
sharing parts of ourselves,
pieces, clues,
keys
to the codes of personalities,
each day revealing
more
with actions and reactions and pauses and catches
and jokes and which jokes we laugh at and how hard,
and answers to questions,
of course.

“Why wouldn’t I?”
I say. I don’t look over,
just resume what I’m doing
as I continue,
“I’m an extrovert with a lot of interests.”
It makes sense to me, makes sense
with me
and the way I’ve performed and presented and costumed myself,
especially at work.
The question had surprised me.
Did he think
I had strict parents, forcing me into things?
That I was trying to get scholarships?
That I was exploring different facets of my personality?
Or was it simply foreign to him
as an introvert with more acute interests?

We were working
and busy
and I forgot to ask properly.

But this morning
I was thinking about it again–
thinking about
the way I’ve internally lived
all winter
in some grim noir space
of anger and existential crisis and moral dilemma and
drinking alone in my garage,
punching my heavy bag
and hating everything,
waking up dizzy and nursing a headache,
rifling through piles of unfolded laundry
spilling from baskets not put away for weeks, months,
schlepping my aching carcass to the kitchen
and choking down whatever breakfast I hope won’t make me want to pull over on the highway and vomit,
driving to work in the silence
of my own bad decisions,
just a moment before I put on my lipstick
and my smile
and my song
and lift people up all day
so that I can get home only to
drown myself all night
and kick myself for it in the morning–

and I was thinking this morning
about how much this wasn’t me.

I’m not unshaven, hard-living Humphrey Bogart
blowing into the dark, wet city
with dirty hands and an even dirtier blonde
and solving slimy mysteries
in back alleys
under a knowing, cruel moon.

Ask any of the now many people who call me sunshine.
No,

I’m Judy Garland
fixing her bicycle so she can
make it to the theatre in time
to put on the charity show
that’ll save the orphanage.
I’m Claudette Colbert
taking in strays during World War Two,
cooking and planting victory gardens
and selling warbonds and rolling bandages.

I’m wholesome,
damn it,
an all-American:
pretty and fun and energetic and generous and
joyful.

I have an excellent memory–
nearly photographic at times–
my brain
either by nature or years of practice
recieves and catalogues
information in a way that is accessible and able to be regurgitated in whatever manner necessary to the task at hand.

But my heart isn’t as fortunate–
forgets and remembers at inopportune times–
she’s a masochist, too, unquestionably and invariably.

So that makes sense, too–
that I would remember but not remember
for long stretches
that I am not
in actuality
what I have been being–
in some attempt to fool myself or hurt myself
or both.

The heart is deceitful
and
desperately wicked,
and mine personally
holds a lot of murderous rage,
but she somehow only ever takes it out on
me.

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