Kelly Lorraine Andrews
The Speaker of This Poem Is Kelly Lorraine Andrews
(Well I told the most fascinating stories first.)
The speaker of this poem is sitting with her 12-year-old self (we were too old for Easter baskets) when she notices a pattern emerge (I got in trouble by my dad) (I was so scared.) (I don’t think we’ll have any storms tonight.), one where the speaker of the diary responds with fear (Sure I was scared last night) to her environment (I thought for sure we were going to have a tornado). Each day is marked (There’s going to be another storm like Friday) by the possibility of (There was some pretty bad looking clouds.) something about to happen. (They even had a tornado watch up, but now it’s not on.)
(Limerence is first and foremost a condition of cognitive obsession.)
The speaker of this poem is also reading about limerence––a word made up by Dorothy Tennov––that explains the speaker’s intense emotional attachment to a past lover. (Limerence involves intrusive thinking about the limerent object. Other characteristics include acute longing for reciprocation and fear of rejection.) This longing is the rattle of an old box fan running on high (In cases of unrequited limerence, transient relief may be found by vividly imagining reciprocation from the limerent object.), despite the months that have passed since she last saw him. (Limerent fantasy is unsatisfactory unless rooted in reality, because the fantasizer may want the fantasy to seem realistic and somewhat possible.) The speaker started sending emailed transmissions to the lover in the hopes that he would write back something witty and so him, but he sent only one response that said “totez reading errythang.” Maybe the past lover really does say “errythang” in conversation and the speaker never noticed before (In their thoughts, such a person tends to emphasize what is admirable in the limerent object and to avoid any negative or problematic attributes.).
(I can’t really say the most exciting thing was anything)
The speaker is not surprised when she learns that the brain of someone experiencing limerence has low serotonin levels comparable to someone who has obsessive compulsive disorder (I should have jotted down everything that happened), or that it’s influenced by trauma (I was so scared), or that a limerent object may be construed (as an idealization of the figure or figures involved in the original unhealthy attachment or trauma). When her past lover stops calling, she thinks about the months spent preferring silence to the sound of her father’s cracked voice––how it’s possible she’ll hear either again only in her head.
Letters That I Never Wrote
Must’ve been some pain in your past, too
Must’ve been a karma that was past due
Dear men who love their mothers dearly:
I’m reading a book about the G-spot
that says “it’s been estimated that anywhere
from 10-15% of women have never had an orgasm.”
I want to understand my body better,
to let go of fearing the unknown
but I broke another vibrator trying
to fill myself up, a frozen pipe burst open.
Dear past lovers, dear present crushes:
I bought myself a small bouquet
of flowers but I don’t know their names.
Some looked dyed shades of orange
so bright I thought, maybe we don’t know
what reality is after all. All I really want
is a nap but I have another hour of work
left and it’s unbearable sometimes
sitting in my low-lit office
listening to brass band music
and writing letters to you.
I should’ve been a librarian motorcyclist.
Dear Jay Z:
One of my cats, Baby Goose, is deeply
depressed and I don’t know how to
mother her. Who makes you feel safest?
Dear [ ], Dear [ ], Dear [ ]:
I stepped outside and smoked a cigarette
and there’s a million things I feel ashamed
for: the three snack size snickers I ate earlier,
having grown up really poor, how much I masturbate.
How do you cope with your private life being public?
By now you should know I’ll never get over
the idea of you as father/lover/husband.
I have to tell you something. I read
another woman’s book of poem-letters
written to Lil Wayne. I’ve always been
an honest thief at least. I’m also reading
I Love Dick and Chris Krause
is a Confessional Queen.
Like, giving the thought an audience
makes it more bearable somehow.
But I think I know how this one ends:
the woman keeps on wanting.
Dear 33-year-old me:
I know so distinctly
who I don’t want to be
that it’s hard to imagine
who I could become.
I’ve listened to Talking Heads on repeat
three separate times today.
On my drive to work
I pulled to the side of the road
and took a picture of the most amazing
rainbow I can remember seeing.
How does anyone relax these days?
Who’s going to love me til I’m dead?
The Difference Between a Wanting Woman and a Poem
I could no more give up my idea of finding the perfect man than give up poetry. Are they not the same concept, the same spirit, the same holy quest, for beauty, embodied in the flesh, not denying, but attesting to the spiritual life?
How are your desires today?
I took my desires for a walk in the cemetery, showed them the section marked “Unnamed Babies.” My desires climbed onto Mary and touched her sacred heart, caressed her stone feet. They wanted desperately to beat the Blissey defending a Pokemon mausoleum-turned gym. When it was obvious they wouldn’t tire, I returned home and slid a pink vibrator inside. I want to stop wanting so much, but I’m good at it.
When did you first notice your desires?
I found them once under the kitchen table, next to a stuffed teddy bear and a Vanilla Ice cassette tape. Sometimes I’d catch glimpses of them on TV, between the holey crocheted blanket my father draped over the screen, bits of legs and mouths and the sound on mute. Later, my sisters practiced kissing each other in the corner of our bedroom. Once, all three of us stuck our heads around the base of the doorway and she was on her knees in front of him, his body sunk deep in the brown chair.
How have your desires evolved?
When my desires come to visit, they stay too long, take naps, and make me late to a reading-meeting-dinner-drink-date. I didn’t know Diana was a Roman goddess until I met one and wanted to give her a pink potted succulent from my windowsill. Sometimes I catch myself staring at the leaf tattoo on her thigh, distracting myself from myself again.
Where do your desires go?
My desires have, on occasion, stayed at a farm in rural Tennessee, collected eggs, sprayed mud from boot soles, braided curls. Once, they watched a beautiful man split wood on a small square of cement beside a barn, how his body curved carrying the weight of tinder against shoulder. My desires thought about falling in love then––realized it was a possibility for them. Maybe it’s the sounds of the woods––reminiscent of a childhood spent straddling the limbs of a tree, wind close to the ear.
Kelly Lorraine Andrews' poems have appeared in Ninth Letter, PANK, and Prick of the Spindle, among others. She is the author of four chapbooks, most recently The Fear Archives (Two of Cups Press, 2017) and My Body Is a Poem I Can't Stop Writing (Porkbelly Press 2017). She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Pittsburgh, and she co-edits the online journal Pretty Owl Poetry. Additional information about her publications, along with a slideshow of her cats, can be found at kellyandrewspoetry.com.