G is for Greg
My mother was school teacher
but she never taught me much
about boys, though she did insist I marry
in the church and warned against anyone
whose sister was stricken with a deficient
thyroid or borderline personality disorder.
She also advised me to avoid boys
named Blake or Greg, and otherwise left me
to my own broken devices.
Now, studies have shown that little girls grow up
to marry men who take after their fathers.
So if one little girl is the golden apple
of her Daddy's eye, the other is a drab
wounded wren, begging crumbs on the corner.
And I've known both sides of this coin because
I've been an outlaw since the day I was born.
So, of course, I fell for the first charming thief
that I met on the street. I was tired of running
my lines and wearing disguises.
Greg was unrepentant, defiant, a runaway
from a boarding reform school in Georgia.
He looked like home to me—a pair of designer
blue jeans, turned inside-out to reveal
their dirty inseams. He pulled a pill from his pocket.
I swallowed. It helped me forget.
I petted his head, and he followed me home.
For three months, I kept him in my dormitory.
He was the first boy that slept in my bed.
He gave me a moonstone and read to me
from a book of illuminated poems that he stole.
I cut class that semester, and Greg schooled me
in everything: how to mark your targets
and territory, how the art of deception
depends on consent. He was always working
an angle: his voice stretched thin and fine,
his face inclined further and further away
as I leaned in to kiss him.
Yes, he was using me, but I too was generous
with my cruelty. I once struck his cheek
with the flat of my palm because
I did not like what I saw in his eyes:
a wild animal, in the cage of my arms.
He went out one night and he never came back.
His hair still under my pillow. His shoes in the back
of my closet. I locked myself up with the smell
of his things and didn’t come out
until I could blow perfect smoke rings.
The year after Greg disappeared into the ether
I kept a smart alley cat called Sebastian
in a college apartment with a school boy
named Adam. When the cat ran away,
Adam was saddened, but I had expected it.
I may have failed Intro to Critical Theory
but I had learned this lesson already:
the more human an animal, the less
she will deign to be kept as a pet.
Copyright 2016 | Pet Murmur