February 13, 2014 Comments Off on Rosaline at Eighty By Joseph Mills
No, there’s not a better time. We’re just waiting for lunch, and after that we’ll be waiting for dinner, but really we’re just waiting to die, and the meals keep us occupied until then.
I bet you were surprised to call and find out I’m still around. And that’s always been the crux of it, hasn’t it. I am. He’s not. And she isn’t, of course. I might be the only one left with Benvolio gone. I heard he died of a cold last year. A cold. That’s where we are. A two-year old wipes snot on you, and you’re dead.
I haven’t changed my mind if that’s what you want to know. My first thought, like everyone’s, was, “Oh no. That’s terrible.” But you get over it. A reporter asked once if I was jealous or scared that it could have been me. Idiot. No one cared when we were together, and even then, in my salad days, I wouldn’t have gone along with something like that. It was a dumb plan. Typical of the priest. Overly elaborate. I’ve never understood why he didn’t end up in jail. And it was typical of Romeo. Mr. Melodramatic. Mr. Over-the-Top. Just going for a drink would elicit a monologue. That’s why I didn’t sleep with him. He tried to talk me into bed. On and on and on. Maybe if he would have just kissed me . . .
And if I would have? Maybe he’d be alive. And so would she. Maybe they’d both be retired somewhere. Maybe down the hall. We’d be doing crosswords together in the sun room. People probably think that sounds sad. What a horrible fate that would have been to have a long life and be well-fed at the end.
Maybe he even would have married me then, but so what. He still would have moved on because that’s who he was. She would have found that out eventually, probably after she had kids. He got around. A lot of us did when we were young. And in our middle age. And here. You wouldn’t believe the bed jumping that goes on in a place like this. It makes it easier since we forget from day-to-day that we’re married or whose sheets we crawled between the night before. We’re no different from teenagers.
If we would have done it, maybe he wouldn’t have gone to that party. And the rest of it wouldn’t have happened. So, that’s it; I didn’t fuck Romeo, and people died, but my life didn’t end up too bad, two husbands that nobody asks about, both better than him, blasphemy I know, but it’s the truth, and three children, one who comes to see me and two who don’t but always say they’re going to. Not much of a story. I’m just the one before the one. The one who ended up the answer to a trivia question. The one who lived on.
© 2013 Joseph Mills
A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills has published four books of poetry with Press 53. www.josephrobertmills.com