To The Men I Loved (And The Ones I Could Have)

Lechon Kirb
Lechon Kirb

I am 16 when he kisses me.
My father has died but now a boy is kissing me, so I decide this feels better.
I choose lust over grief and fall inside of him with such an ease,
my mother fears I will marry the first boy to ever touch me.
I am 16 and I am convinced he is all I will ever need
or see,
that his face will be permanently tattooed to my resting eyelids.
He claims love within a month
and I return it,
The only love I have ever known from a man was
till death did us part,
so my love is handed over without reservation.
He leaves and I cry in my mother’s bed for weeks.
I tell her I will never love again.

I am 18 when he kisses me.
His father died too,
so we kiss with a kind of understanding
he says he has loved me from a far for years,
that I had a glow he’d never seen.
I playfully push him and say he’s being too corny.
But now I’m the one writing love poems for every man above my bedpost.
I actually think I will marry this one.
He thinks so too.
But our distance pulls us apart and the wishbone breaks.
I wished for exploration
and freedom,
wings to finally grow in places I had been trying to stop.
But now that I’ve settled,
I think of him
in spaces of silence
and regret.

I am 21 when he kisses me.
He towers over me and I feel like I’ve been picked
with all the girls melting at his fingertips,
He is in my bed
bringing me to parties and introducing me to friends,
As if I am the girl in the back bleachers
suddenly scooped up by Prom King,
none of it seems real.
I guess it was too good to be true.
We read poetry to each other in bed
and I think this is the start to something grand
Something I will write about for years – and I guess I am.
But he kisses me with one mouth
and kisses her with another.
I, again, cry in my mother’s bed,
convinced I was just not worthy.
She had something I didn’t.
And honestly,
perhaps she did.

I am 22 when he kisses me.
We are drunk in Hollywood and I have weirdly loved him from the first time I met him.
His apartment is decorated with stupid football gear and I make fun of it.
He holds me in his bed and says I understand him.
And I do.
I still do.
He is everything I wanted to find, but never quite did.
But I am not the one.
His heart is still breaking for the girl before and I let him cry on my shoulder.
I rub his back as he speaks about her.
I only cry when I’m back in my car.
I think I will love him forever.
And maybe I will.
These days,
my stomach does not lurch when he texts me
but when I’m in Los Angeles and drive past his exit,
it still feels like I’ve been punched in the jaw.

I am nearly 23 when he kisses me.
He is just the boy after the one I still taste when I kiss.
But his apartment becomes my safe haven
and I miss his blue eyes.
I miss his questions and the casualness of it all.
I wonder if,
had enough time passed,
I could have fallen in love with him.
I decide probably not.
Not like before.

But I guess we never really know.
Do we?

Oh, baby girl.

One day, it will work all the way. One day, I will stop liking boys who taste sad. Because I won’t be searching for remedies in mouths. TC mark

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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