Wishful Thinking

By Rachel Beitsch

I sent off the last of my wishful thinking
with that card.
The one that made up for
my lack of timing
and gave you a deadline –
a lifeline –
to hang on your wall
and once in a while
to laugh at the message.

When we were eleven,
we swore we’d be married
despite ill-fated genetic proclivities
raised by our families
ages and ages ago.
At age sixteen, I was sorry to see you
as I was, by choice,
untouchable,
hoping to forestall advances
I knew only you would make,
wishing you wouldn’t break into my room
or fondle my hair
or keep my neck warm.
My journey is different and turbulent –
I know where
I want to find acceptance.
Sorry, friend – it’s not your carefree
desperation.
Last resort, now departing for higher purpose.
I love you.

We talked this week
about those ages, all ago.
If you had reached
your hand to break the bounds
I chose to set between our bodies
seven years ago,
if the sprinkler on the lawn
that I’d unwittingly sat upon
hadn’t gone off beneath me,
if you’d had the gall
to violate my deepest friendship,
I’d have fought and maybe lost
to wanting, over what I want.
And when you asked if I’d
consider, when we’re 90
and still single,
taking you to Last Resort,
taking you –
I never answered more than
“No.”

I love you.

And you wallow in your games,
the ones we always had in common,
and you burn your life out
in the glow of your Winstons –
better coffee spoons
than arsenic lacing,
you said in simpler words.

In the mail, you’ll finally read
my reply:
“Happy 90th Birthday!”
And the post-script to our ages of
wordless tension:
“Do me a favor and live that long.
Then we’ll talk.”

My wishful thinking gets us nowhere –
but it might
get you up
in the morning.

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Filed under Issue 1, Poetry

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