Can't swim; uses credit cards and pills to combat intolerable feelings of inadequacy; Won't admit his dread of boredom, chief impulse behind numerous marital infidelities; Looks fat in jeans, mouths clichés with confidence, breaks mother's plates in fights; Buys when the market is too high, and panics during the inevitable descent; Still, Pop can always tell the subtle difference between Pepsi and Coke, Has defined the darkness of red at dawn, memorized the splash of poppies along Deserted railway tracks, and opposed the war in Vietnam months before the students, Years before the politicians and press; give him a minute with a road map And he will solve the mystery of bloodshot eyes; transport him to mountaintop And watch him calculate the heaviness and height of the local heavens; Needs no prompting to give money to his kids; speaks French fluently, and tourist German; Sings Schubert in the shower; plays pinball in Paris; knows the new maid steals, and forgives her.
David Lehman - 1948-
When a Woman Loves a Man
When she says margarita she means daiquiri. When she says quixotic she means mercurial. And when she says, "I'll never speak to you again," she means, "Put your arms around me from behind as I stand disconsolate at the window." He's supposed to know that. When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading, or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he is raking leaves in Ithaca or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate at the window overlooking the bay where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway. When a woman loves a man it is one ten in the morning she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels drinking lemonade and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed where she remains asleep and very warm. When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks. When she says, "We're talking about me now," he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says, "Did somebody die?" When a woman loves a man, they have gone to swim naked in the stream on a glorious July day with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle of water rushing over smooth rocks, and there is nothing alien in the universe. Ripe apples fall about them. What else can they do but eat? When he says, "Ours is a transitional era," "that's very original of you," she replies, dry as the martini he is sipping. They fight all the time It's fun What do I owe you? Let's start with an apology Ok, I'm sorry, you dickhead. A sign is held up saying "Laughter." It's a silent picture. "I've been fucked without a kiss," she says, "and you can quote me on that," which sounds great in an English accent. One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it another nine times. When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the airport in a foreign country with a jeep. When a man loves a woman he's there. He doesn't complain that she's two hours late and there's nothing in the refrigerator. When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake. She's like a child crying at nightfall because she didn't want the day to end. When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking: as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved. A thousand fireflies wink at him. The frogs sound like the string section of the orchestra warming up. The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.