You learned early to ration affection,
as it was rationed to you,
your mother’s need
so much greater than your own
with your father out nights,
drinking away the rent,
giving all of himself to the kitsch
of smoky barroom queens.
You recall the soundtrack,
those years after the divorce,
tintinnabulation of the jukebox
at the Pecan Lounge,
drunken gargles of your father
in a filthy dive, and your mother
tracking down his six-pack whores
through tarnished trailer parks.
This is why you cannot kiss me
the way I would like
to be kissed, love me in the whole
the way I need to be loved.
It’s the rattle, crush of your head
on my chest as we sleep,
that old lover fear
wedged firmly between us both.