First Love

It’s the first love I resent so much I can’t look back,

can’t muster enough for even a retrospective love poem —

the glare of that reflection is blinding, still, and perhaps for the best.

She so young and hopeful and revoltingly naive.

He so wrongly fit one wonders why no one said anything those first long years,

put a stop to the nonsense before

that first virginal kiss, that awkward stumble into love,

that goddamn Brides magazine under the mattress after the glittering rooftop proposal.

What were any of us thinking?

It was no more a match made in heaven than my parents

who would suffer like good Catholics for only a few more years themselves.

Thank god he went to war, ate a dog, voted for George Bush —

I might no longer recognize myself.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. Image: Lovers by House, Jeffrey Smart

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