I think about the men who told me I could
and I think about men who told me I couldn’t
I think about which men
I listened to.
Which men were easier to listen to
and I wonder why it was that way.
Which fuck you
or walk away
or simple Goodbye, I’m done here
was the final thing to break me down to
do women call being single
Why did being with someone else,
someone who sometimes
used my body as a mirror
for himself to call stupid, going nowhere, empty
feel better than this alone?
I spent two years telling every man no.
Two years carrying my own groceries,
pumping air in my bike tires or lungs
because there was no one I needed a ride from.
cooking, bathing, hiking,
sick, after surgery, after work,
after I found out I am allergic to fucking chicken
and apples and tomatoes and oats
I saw fourteen countries alone
until I met the first man
who didn’t try to tell me
I met a man with three sisters, no brothers
and a heart the color of
what people used to travel West for.
A man who knows he did not create or name
any new piece in me.
That I was never alone.
He does not feel like a compromise,
as I thought men always would.
It is hard to find the words, but
He just took his parts
and put them next to mine
and I felt every mirror shatter.
When I think about men,
I think about this one first.