Why I’m Not a Good Lover by Fay Dillof

The first time I saw anyone naked
was after I looked kids with flat faces
in weirdly twisted, bent-over poses, and a boy
my own age with a claw for a hand
and a grenade. Mom kept the Diane Arbus book in the den
on a low coffee. So when I encountered the unhappy-looking
hairy-bushed couple, and a long-legged woman
or, I wondered, wanna-be-woman or man? my body filled,
though it was already full, with what I was seeing
was wrong.
The second time was my father,
his face turning red.
Third, my changing body in two corner mirrors,
my body, my body, infinitely. I can be pretty
selfish, as you’re well aware. And I’ve got a damaged esophagus.
Food, even liquidy like milk, can get stuck, going down.
You put on music, ball up your socks, throw them across the room,
and I tell you I need you
to go back into the bathroom, your face’s too stubbly, and shave.
None of this means I don’t love your touch, and you.
On my best days I thank now for being the same as from now on.
On my worst––there are too many of these—what I want
is to want, or to want to want to want, which, tugged,
slip-knots around my torso, my chest,
instead of buckling my knees.
It’s hard to keep a window open in a long marriage.
Weed helps. Then I like to watch
the glittering beech tree out the window, arching its back.
Fay Dillof lives in Northern California where she works as a psychotherapist. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers, and a recipient of scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, Fay wishes she could find the exact quote in which Marguerite Duras says something akin to “No matter what I say, I will never discover why I write, or understand how others do not.” Fay’s work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in FIELD, New Ohio Review, Sugar House Review, Green Mountain Review, Barrow Street, Tupelo Quarterly, Spillway, Mid-American Review, Bellevue Literary Review, RHINO, Frontier, The Cortland Review, Shadow Graph, and Harpur Palate and been featured in Poetry Daily.