The Broken Bed by Vanessa Reed (@vreedwriter)

Things were over,
And she didn’t quite feel
How to know:
Everything she ever dreamed of,
Over dead and gone.

All those attempts to revive-
A broken bed.
The pain she feels
Is worse than the other times;
Than the other people:
The other men,
The men before HIM
Whom she always thought were so horrid,
And yet…

He was the worst of all;
Stayed with him over things
She never would have accepted
From all those others.

They were his forebears:

The first boy
Lived by the sea.
Making dates for Saturdays
That never came,
Calls unanswered.
She laid her virginity
On his doorstep.
Months of hell,
Twisted heart.

The second boy
Was a love she long wanted,
And he was like
A faltering butterfly
Who was impervious to nets.
But she let him
Put it in her mouth;
She was his first.
But her narrow thighs
Too lackluster
For him to taste;
He turned his tongue up at it,
Said “No,”
And then thanked her for her mouth.

The third boy
Came from a midwestern town:
He kissed her on a ship.
Dark theatre,
Mermaid cartoons.
Wrote him for years.
This one wrote back.
He was fine.
Years apart and met again;
Fell even harder.
First love,
Stronger than that first boy.
She stole him from his girl,
Flew home in tears,
Months to recover;
Probably married by now.

The fourth boy
Had her last name.
Met him at a show.
The poet had hands,
And a mouth,
And a heart;
Just not for her.

And then there was the fifth:
Said they’d marry;
Met him at a wedding.
Whispered in her ear
New Year’s Eve.
Showed her the mountains,
And then, let her go.
Never wanted children;
She hears he has a son now.

The sixth one
Was a girl;
Mouth of silent words,
Breasts of silk,
But a crush on the older man
Who hurt her before
Still on her mind.

Number seven wasn’t so lucky:
In love with his student
And with her, you see.
Took her skating by the sea.
Fell away,
Silent for months,
Re-emerging with promises and apologies;
All empty,
All empty,
Broken for months.

Number eight caught her sleeve
As she fell:
A Texas Prince,
Music on his mind.
Liked her
To wear pantyhose
Then he would cut a slit to enter.
He would have them
On their knees;
Pray for forgiveness after.

Number nine was HIM.
All those others;
The Princes of her heart;
Made him a King.
He knelt in the street
Holding a ring;
Heart-shaped box.
Wed by candlelight.
He kissed her in a library,
Sick when they met.
“Get well together,” they said.
Lost his new job
The night after he learned
He would be a father;
Hit two cars on the way to work.
Angry neighbor
Pounded her door.
He didn’t come home that night,
Didn’t call.
She waited;
No word,
Followed his movements
By bankcard:
He went
Liquor store after liquor store,
Fired and afraid.
Left you for that.
Went to live with her father
In the woods;
It was safe there.
But he convinced her to let him
Try again;
The first of many
Empty promises.
She came back.
Their daughter was born
But his mother was a monster
So they escaped.
Her brother got him a job
At a newspaper,
Which he promptly shit on.
And then, he ran.
He ran again.
Their two-year-old daughter:
“When’s Daddy coming home?”
Said he needed a break;
He fled to a motel,
Came back feeling righteous.
Started taking drugs again.
He spray-painted the car,
He spray-painted the whole town.
Angry words on the bank of the L.A. River:
“Down by the river I shot my baby.”
Left him again.
Left him in a mental hospital.
Her daddy had to pay for the divorce
That she cancelled last minute:
Stay for the baby
Stay for the family.
Maybe he just needs more time.
But he only wasted her time.

How many overdoses does it take
To get to his center;
Center of attention.
He pulls them in,
Gets them addicted,
Then takes it away;
Thrives on the misery.
He cultivates it
Like a rare flower
That eats it’s own mate.
Ten years of ingesting it
In small doses
To try and build immunity.
But no one is immune
To him,
His entire clan:
Cursed upon the earth,
Held captive by the Ice Queen
(That they secretly love),
What else lies buried?

He could stand outside her window
Holding a stereo
Pointing Shiny Toy Guns at her,
And she wouldn’t answer the door.
Don’t say anything.
Don’t speak.
He’s not the one.
“Orphan, no one wants you.”

But there is more to life than men;
There is more.
She may sleep in a broken bed,
But at least the blankets are warm.
And there are two marriage lines in her palm…