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Networking: A Love Poem

July 18, 2012

When you didn’t call today

in a timely fashion

as I’ve grown to expect,

at first I just glanced occasionally

at my phone’s unchanging screensaver

and continued to eat my sandwich.

 

But then it hit me,

the way the incessant, high-pitched buzz of an old light-bulb

will quite suddenly and then irrevocably make its presence known,

though it has for many months already buzzed beneath your notice.

 

There it was, buzzing with intolerable persistence, as I gazed at my phone:

these little business trips that they send people like you on?

They’re really all about the “networking,”

aren’t they?

And, heck,

everyone knows that networking

is just a chance for people to—

 

Good God!

My sandwich fell from my hands.

And I began to picture you,

networking,

the lighting in my mind

as clear as the black-stemmed spotlights

that flood a movie set:

a restaurant scene, violin music,

soft candlelight, white table cloths, no visible entrees.

 

You are sitting next to her,

your adjacent name plates having fated you

to occasionally rub elbows

in such cramped quarters

as a business conference dinner table requires.

You are charming, as always,

expounding to her on your research,

gesturing wildly with your hands,

showing how much you mean it

(which you do).

 

And she listens,

with lips slightly parted,

her slender, well-plucked eyebrows raised

in surprise and wonderment

at your astonishing feats.

She has that put-together look

(for example,

probably she is wearing high-heeled shoes)

that most “low-maintenance” girls,

such as myself,

could not manage

even at proverbial gunpoint.

But it’s a look that men like,

even if they don’t appreciate the intricacies

and the intensive labor that goes into it.

 

Her hair, of course, is blonde

because what other color could it be?

Her breasts are similar to mine

in that there are two of them, and that they look vaguely squishy,

but hers are ever-so-slightly larger than my two,

and significantly perkier.

Her tailored suit,

though impeccably professional,

shows them off to good advantage.

Her waist, though not impossibly small,

is smaller than mine.

She doesn’t say much,

but she listens,

and she gives you her attention,

or better yet,

a soft glint in her shadowed eyes that hints at

admiration.

 

And what am I to do?

I can call you on the phone.

I can throw a fit.

But I am here,

and I don’t feel up to this challenge.

 

And while this (let’s face it…ridiculous) movie

buzzed in my head,

my face grew hot,

and the tears escaped from the corners of my eyes,

forcing an unexpected gentleness from the Subway employee

as he swept the cups and straws gingerly from beneath my feet.

 

But here’s the thing.

I was not crying over Tina, or Bridget, or Jan, or Lydia,

or whatever that imaginary girl’s name was.

What I was crying over is that I realized,

for the first time tonight,

that I’ve let you in.

 

You once said that falling in love is a choice we have,

and I still agree.

I chose to fall in love with you.

I went in with eyes wide open

and guns blazing,

thinking that it looked like good fun.

 

But now what?

You could change your mind about me.

You could meet a bodacious blonde named Flossie

who shares your passion

for vegetarian entrees at business conferences.

You could find a flaw of mine,

not yet discovered,

and look at me in a less favorable light.

 

I let you in on purpose, like the Trojan horse.

And to say that I had no idea that all those armed men might be lurking inside the wooden belly

would be a foolish thing to say, and untrue.

But tonight I imagined what the walls would look like if they burned.

 

When you called finally,

a little later in the evening,

brushing your teeth and telling me about the short, middle-aged man from Cleveland

who complimented you on your presentation,

and how you couldn’t wait to see me,

visions of burning walls,

charred ruins,

and my heart nailed to the doorframe

blinked off quietly in my head like an old attic light.

And I slowly let you lead me back from the edge

like you always do.

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From → poetry

2 Comments
  1. Carr permalink

    Gorgeous. Funny. Musical. Absolutely true and honest.

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