My Heart is a Fig Tree


After sex in his back yard A expresses anxiety.

“I don’t want to be your boyfriend,” he says.

“You’re not my boyfriend.”

“Oh good.”

There is a fig tree in A’s back yard.  It got too top heavy and fell over.  We propped it up with a board and tied it to the fence.  Then buried the roots up and gave it some water.  It shines jade green in the moonlight.  You would never know how lightly it grips the earth by looking at its fat, plentiful leaves and tight-skinned fruit.

A says, “I can’t have an emotional erection right now.”

I jump out of his van in the intersection and watch him drive away.  He needs to make things right with his last love.  He had breakfast with her this morning.

“Are you going to get back together?”

“I don’t know…”

I’m holding my heart in after it toppled for him when we first met.  I’ve found a sturdy plank and some rope, have got it mostly secured for now.  It just can’t get jostled too much.

A is an orphan.  He has disowned his father, and his mother died a few years ago.  The few times I’ve asked about her his face became pained and he went mute.  I know that she was a painter and he has bought a house to hang her artwork in.  I have urges to take care of him.

Before I became a mother I wanted to find a daddy figure in my lovers, or maybe it was a mommy.  I wanted to be taken care of.  I wanted to fall asleep on the couch listening to the sound of someone doing dishes in the next room.  Now I long to take care of my lovers.  It wasn’t this way at first.  When I first had a baby, I had nothing to offer anyone else.  100 percent of me poured into the baby.  And then I grew, I suppose, or something happened, so that now I have endless nurturing for the world.  I want to give my lovers baths, comb their hair, trim their nails, rub their feet and hands.  I want to spoil them with attention, with love, with care.  I have become the Mom I suppose.

I think I know that A will be helpless to this kind of nurturing, because he needs it so badly.  So I refrain from spoiling him.  I want to wait until I am sure he wants me to love him, and is ready to love me back.  And maybe he wants to be with his old love, or alone, or with somebody else altogether.  I can do this now, I can give him space to choose.  It is good to be a grown-up, finally.


Your Heart is a Battleground


I waited all evening for Monsieur.  He says such sweet things to me on the phone, but never appears for our dates.  I think he might be trying to recruit me for ISIS.  This is what I think many of the men on okcupid are doing.  Perhaps I enter into our exchanges with an air of suspicion, which is why the chemistry mostly fails to take off.  When it does take off, I am left with a P or an A, which is sort of like loving the air beside you in bed, pretending it’s a person.

P is sitting at home painting.  His apartment was tolerable for a week because his new maid came.  But now the empty bags of chips, half drank bottles of red wine, and plastic bottles are drifting back in.  His lack of enthusiasm toward me is keeping me at bay.  I get one word, lukewarm texts in response.  He does not invite me out on dates, or even over.  I am too tired, too old to be tolerated.

The dating is getting to me.  I am beginning to resent the time taken from my writing.  A few days ago I went out with Señor.  He was handsome, silver-haired, with gentlemanly manners.  He cracked corny jokes throughout dinner, and folded a paper airplane that he threw at the waiter.  We walked to a nearby bar so he could sit near a fire.  A very drunk man jumped onto the firepit and made a big show out of clenching a loonie in his butt cheeks, then holding it there while he walked around the fire.  Later, the same man joined our conversation and spent half an hour giving Señor valuable dating advice like, “Kiss the woman no matter what, even if she says no.  Just do what you want to do.  Women like that.”

I wanted Señor to make Loonie leave, to be firm.  I wanted him to take control and I kept having thoughts like, “Be a man!”, which is what Loonie was trying to teach him in his backward way.  But I did not make Loonie leave.  I did not wrest control back, not even when Loonie grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet, turning to Señor and saying, “There, see what I just did?  I took control.”   Shortly after, Señor got up and went to the restroom, leaving me with Loonie who began to criticize my date.  I half-heartedly stood up for Señor, but really I just wanted to get home.  I missed P.

I saw P the next night.  We talked until 2am, lying in bed, our legs tangled up.  I want to let go into this falling, but his heart is a battleground.  It is rigged with minefields, razor wire, hidden trenches, snipers, bombs.  I stand on the soft ground, pink flesh.  The rush of his blood moving is like bird song.  The air smells of warm milk, vanilla, cedar.  I am alone inside of him.  One false move and I’ll be torn to shreds.  If I stay frozen I am safe.  My feet planted, my senses open.  It is so lovely in here.  So very lovely.  And lonely.

Fucking I Love You


I turned 40 without any fanfare.  My usual birthday tradition of buying myself new books at the bookstore, out to lunch, and aimless meandering.  But this day my head was full of P.  I couldn’t shake him.  I was seeing the whole day through a lens of what I thought it would look like to him.  Simultaneous self-consciousness and thrilling exhibitionism.  Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore and sent him a text saying I wanted to come steal a few kisses.  He responded by writing, “Lucky me”.  So I blew off the pedicure and drove to his apartment.

He didn’t answer the door right away and I had a sinking fear that he was out with another woman.  We owe each other nothing, or hardly anything.  It’s new enough between us that it would just be weird if I made demands of him, or he of me.  But it would still hurt if he were with someone else.  He answered, heavy eyed, shirtless.  “I was taking a rest,” he said, stepping back to let me in.  I ignored the terrible mess that dominates his apartment and set my stuff down on the crumb-layered day bed.  He stepped toward me, hand to my head, and kissed me.  Such a wonderful, tentative, eager, hello kiss.  It was confident.  Like he knew I wanted it.  I realized then that I wanted to owe him my time and affection.

We went to cuddle in the bedroom, which inevitably led to a hot and heavy make out session.  P likes to hold me tight, and kiss me like we’re saying good-bye forever.  It kills me, takes my heart and just smushes it into a mess.  He sucks on my lower lip, feeds me sexy moans, works me up until I’m all laid out like well kneaded bread dough.  That’s as far as we go.  P is terrified of getting a woman pregnant.  Like me, he’s dealing with an ex and a kid.  It’s not going well.  That day we ended up sweating and quivering, pinned together and trying to catch our breath.  He asked me if I was okay and I said yes.  It didn’t even occur to me to ask him.  I just assume that I like him so much more than he likes me.  That’s my default.  Later, when we were walking to my car, he commented that he was dizzy.  “I feel like I just went through a whirlpool of sexual desire,” he said.

I dropped him off near his daughter’s bus stop.  He can tell I’m falling hard for him.  I even said “I love you” while making out.  Catching our breath I said, “That’s an ‘I love you because you’re fucking me’,” which was only partly true.  Before getting out of the car, P said “It’s just that when people start to be in love there’s all these demands on your time and what you’re allowed to do”.  I did some generic reassuring that I’m not gonna do that, that’s not how I feel, I just want to love him.  Like I’m some Altruistic Love Angel capable of pouring it all out while he fucks off and fucks around.  I’m so sick of wounded people who are afraid of being loved, of giving love.  But the unwounded don’t unlock anything in me.