Sestina for an Old Lover

        -- for D.J.E.

Remember the days when I was still your bitch?
We blurred those days into one long sensation
And you lost yourself between making love and basketball--
The excitement of both saturated your smile
While I carried my joy everywhere: inside
And out, we were both just happy to be.

It would have taken a crowbar to remove my smile,
Despite all the nights I lost you to basketball.
Content to bury my love inside
Where no one distracted me, I cared not to be
heard as a madwoman, losing my mind to sensations.
I cared not when the world called me a bitch.

But I was never one to read what was inside
You, especially beneath that charming smile.
You smiled even as I behaved as a bitch
Who could not decide whether to be or not to be
A woman (even as you behaved as though basketball
Made the man). We paved over these feelings with sensations

Of love and lust. We cannot forget that the sex was sensation-
al, of course, and that made all the difference inside.
Outside, we played a game of basketball
As lovers, ate our meals as lovers, fought to be
Seen as lovers, and all the while we would bitch
That love-making didn't mean love, all with a smile./

Over all this casual play, I tried to be
Serious without being seen as the bitch
Who ruined all our good times, good sensations
By introducing talk of "love" and "forever" inside.
Everyday I saw you, you continued to smile
Although your heart turned to watching basketball.

You are now an old lover, and another basketball
Season has begun. Again, I try to be
Strong and force through my life with a smile
On my face to hide this burning sensation
Of abandonment. Again, I am the bitch
Who made the mistake of letting you inside.

Where long ago there was a smile, there is now just the sensation
Of a slight bleeding inside, as though, once again, a bitch
Who loved you through basketball and all, was stabbed where her heart used to be.

21 July 1993
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