Poetry: “My First Attempt at a Love Poem” By Louise M Budd

My First Attempt at a Love Poem

I’ve never written a poem like this.
No cupid’s ever held my quiver
I’ve never felt the butterflies
That oft called “delicious” shiver
–sends tingles down your spine, electrifies—
I’m scared
Because I’m overdue
And I was told
(Maybe not in words, but song,
In film screens and television,
In confidant assurances,
That my mother hasn’t given)
That I would just grow older—
No, grow up
Like a destination
And yes, my height has ceased its flux
I’m as far “up” as I’ll be in hearse
(Perhaps I’ve started to reverse?)
But what I mean—

I mean, I digress.
I’ve never written a poem like this.

Because I’ve never had the chance,
I lack reason and permission
Twice prom came and passed without a passing proposition
And my mother said—
So certain! Such world-worn wisdom in those words!—
“Every girl gets asked!” without concession afterwards.

And now, I’m at an age
Where when the barman asks admission
Passing IDs is just a passing imposition
But still young enough where my heart can’t help but race?
(Though I’ve been told I’m younger than my face)
But again, I digress.

What I mean to ask is:

Fantasies roll through my head like cement
Sadistic explanations meant to fuel my discontent
False futures, pasts, and confrontations I’ve devised
(Ruminations therapists have labelled “ill-advised”)
But nonchalant reality continues to exist
Until finally
Sleep pins me where I can’t resist

But the question remains—
When I awaken wide-eyed for breakfast—
When I quicken my stride through campus—
When I travel home, see faces that I’ve known for years,
People that I’ve walked between and parallel
Acquaintances converged at the diagonal
Because Phoebe knows Anna and Anna knows Tony, and therefore I know that Tony’s sister, Abigail, is having a tough time at school, and—
And When?

And there have been boys,
(At long last! Some familiarity to the address Love Poems ought to find!)
Who I have wanted
Because behind it all, of course I’ve pined
Of course, I’ve stared and I’ve resigned
I’ve left well enough alone; I’ve pushed
I’ve been proud and I’ve regretted
I’ve prayed for and I’ve fretted
And I haven’t moved an inch.

“Ay—Therein lies the rub”
We’ve reached the point I meant to hone
Perhaps I should have whittled down this meager paper poem
(A lie because no part of this is right. There’s love here as there’s paper, calligraphy, or candlelight.)
But I sat down today
To tell a story
(To pass the time)
About a boy who, despite it all, I think I love
(I say loves me)

For Sixteen Years.

Because I believed it all the while.
Those assurances
By actresses, by mothers,
By poets and by hardback covers,
By his blushing turn when our eyes met each other’s.
And I thought,
It’s meant to be.

Inevitability is like Novocain.

Years can’t seem to build a decade
One stumbles and the next takes blade
If not this year, the next.
If not that year, the next.
A glacier blocks grade one from graduation
“Next year” deadens all sensation
—all flirtation, all cessation—
And suddenly, there’s water at your ankles,
Left holding thread too short to spin potentials,
All you know is
You were wrong.
You were so so wrong.

So, is this a Love Poem?
Now that I’ve said what I mean, that I’ve confessed my credentials—
That I’ve never kissed a boy, that I’ve never held a hand,
Never seen myself in someone’s eye or shared blankets with a man—
Can this be a Love Poem?
Artists outline figures by drawing empty space
Guitarists structure silences by plucking at the bass
What I mean is,
Have I found what I’m looking for?
Can knowing everywhere where something’s not be the same as—
But I digress.

What I’m begging to know is:

Louise Budd is a Junior at the University of Chicago.