Several years before my birth
my mother said I do
to a man she would never love
as much as the one who came and went
a man who worked for her father
chopping meat in the family grocery store—
taller than my dad, with dark curly hair
and an age that carried too many numbers
to be an acceptable match.
And he would never have her parent’s blessing
because his ears didn’t work like everyone else’s
which caused his voice to be thick and slow
which caused whispers and sideways glances.
But they ran away together, overnight,
when she was only 17
and when she told me this, I was 30,
which is how old he was then– that young man
who loved her not enough to absorb
the temporary wrath of her family
for what they’d done—
that young man who wouldn’t listen
to his heart, or hers.
He was fired, of course, then moved away.
So here I am—
the result of a failure of nerve—
the result of a lost love, and then a half love.
And this is how most of us get here.