Jason Shinder

The One Secret That Has Carried

Irene loves a man
who is afraid of sex--
she's attended

to everything,
said it was okay,
held me until I slept.

She says, Why don't you just
not think about it?
But I want to know

every sensation,
nothing untouched,
though I pull my hand away

once she's found it
I can't be around a woman
too long,

too much.
I say, I was mistreated.
She says, A cup of tea?

I say, I can't start a thing
and then
describe the kind

of thing I'd start.
We talk about ballrooms,
long sleeves and sashes,

say someday
we should go somewhere
though we can't think

of anywhere
and then I say abruptly,
I've never loved

hard enough
to be loved back.
I say it as if I've had enough

of the whole goddamn
world and will never
be satisfied.

I'm looking
at the wall.
She's looking out

the window because
she needs
to be somewhere.

Later, I leave a note:
Sorry for the difficulties.
Meaning: how come

you don't leave?
I've never told this story.
Even at the moment

of dying,
I would say
it was someone else's.
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