My first no-hassle lover, who arrived with his guitar
to play and sing for me and my dog. His company
was easy, without demanding what I should do
for him. We contemplated our flirtation
with polyamory, an open way. He’d moved to the north
end of the state. I liked to hear his swinging stories,
eased by how he didn’t argue with boundaries I set
to keep myself separate from his body fluids. He slept
in the guestroom. Only my dog swooned, cried
and whined if he went out to his car.
We did experiments, testing heat and pressure,
the tensile strength of our connection. He’d built
a boat, cared about his troubled children, wrote poetry
in the years before I had an interest. My dog
adored him, the only one of us in love.
We stayed in touch through his second marriage
and divorce, his children’s detours and a death.
His third marriage stuck, a woman without
the rules I kept: a leash and collar on myself.
In a museum, Archie met me for lunch. No talk
of sex. That had been another lifetime, memories
saved for rocking chairs. Too much trouble,
we agreed. Through his years of tumors, treatments,
his wife was there. I haven’t met her yet, but will.
We have some stories we still want to share.
Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and has taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her work has appeared in Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The MacGuffin, Prairie Schooner, Slant, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia.