It’s lonely at the top, I’ve heard expressed
by those who have it all. The feeling’s known
by kings and popes and others power-blessed
or fortunate, but who is as alone
as God? And why have all mythologies
produced an alpha patriarch, or paired
divinity in wed hostilities:
the male superior; the female scared?
I tried to find a partner but I failed.
I waited to be found and no one came.
Exploring good in loneliness, I hailed
myself and listened to my proper name:
Alone like God, refracting solitude
in color, so its blessing can be viewed.
…described himself as stodgy, with a moue.
I told him he should try another word.
“Fastidious or proper is more true,”
and he: “You really think so?” fairly purred.
He ordered roasted chicken over rice
and ate the bird with picky elegance.
Effeminate, particular, precise:
if he were gay his moves would make more sense.
My friend thinks he’s too short to have the life
he long ago concluded is complete.
It’s likely he won’t ever find a wife,
for she has six requirements to meet
(or is it seven now? Each decade missed,
he adds a new condition to the list.)
Accusing mental health of barring me
from inspiration, anger, angst or grief,
I lacked the impetus, creatively,
to exorcize big demons. No relief
was needed from my happy family,
with no one drinking, cheating, screaming pain
or gambling. Even promiscuity
was absent in the nest from which I came.
But I made two attempts at married life,
and had to give them up. I wasn’t fit
to compromise – I wasn’t good as wife –
and came to learn alone’s appropriate
for me. I drink elixir now or swill;
there’s always grist for my poetic mill.
My lover might be life itself, I guess:
I love each day. When death’s around my head
I think the name I’ll call, the noun I’ll bless,
the partner I’ll desert when I am dead,
is being. Sweet existence is for me:
bright with light and pulsing rich with sound.
Nature moves like choreography,
and all around me arabesques abound.
Behave each day as if it were your last,
and take the time to smell the flowers, say
the published sage or TV shrink. Too fast
and facile, smug and useless: wisdom’s way
is personal – To know this place and sync
my dance is perfect partnership, I think.
I used to fear I’d waste myself: I’d dream
recurrently about an unused room.
Reminded nightly to it, I’d redeem
it from the day’s oblivion, resume
a planned inhabitance, investigate
its windowless perimeter, and then:
I’d wake to tasks already running late,
time-harried to forgetfulness again.
I used to think my solitude a waste
of personality. I thought I must
bestow myself on someone else. I chased
a wraith of Iris to a pot of rust,
and found beside that rainbow room for me
to like my own peculiarity.
I watched an early-morning dream today
about a different house: a big abode
of stucco, on a corner, which I’d pay
for with somebody culture calls my co-
dependent, never chosen, seldom seen,
a husband nice enough but not enough,
and as it faded with my waking, keen
I grew determined to endorse my stuff.
I woke alone and starfished in my bed,
alone on cotton sheets, beneath my down,
alone inside my little house, the dread
of trading up a fading feel, my gown
for rest instead of wedding. These I seem
to cherish, I’m reminded by a dream.
I can’t stay long – I’ll simply take a kiss
if you don’t mind, but I won’t fall for you.
I’ll lose out on some ecstasy; I’ll miss
your best I guess, but I’ll skip temper too.
You’ve baggage on your shoulders, and your back
is stuck with obligations sharp as spears.
Although I lace my words with rue, the fact
is I decline to spend compressing years
involved with you the way you’d soon insist:
together bound to marry, in a fit
of self-suppression, straining hip and hand.
You praised me half to crazy when we kissed.
That almost made me lose myself … but sit
up straight – Behave I say, and let me stand.