folly in wise clothing:
The phrase, "Opposites attract." For whom? the self-loathing?
I watched a man stare down his opposite wife from one end
Of a dining room table. And I watched him attend
To her words, on the verge of a pounce
The first moment he could pronounce
"Yes, but...," which of course, means "no,"
The insult of a "nice try" and a pat on the hand...
The very opposite hand that his own hand drew
To his heart, years before, as I, a witness, knew
To record for comparison's sake on this, their anniversary
first bloom dazzles, and one is eager to make an exception,
Which involves a fair amount of self-deception
So you call an opposite type a complement instead of a clash
Which is what happened with the couple at whose anniversary
I sat and shredded a napkin as I watched the war unfold
Which one minute of reflection on either side might have foretold.
But with years of practice the roles are cast, and they play
them to the hilt:
He, the Pedant, she, the Beauty-not bookish but well built.
And they drew aside the gaudy curtain on domestic decay.
was innocent enough, at first, with the husband's teasing
About his wife's flitting from room to room in characteristic
She shot back with a little jab at his adherence to rigid
Eccentricities lose their charm, and a writer's quarantine-
Recording our dainty notions in our dainty little hand-
Is not-so-secretly despised by our opposites who just can't
The idea of an interest that renders us so silent and still.
In return, some scorn slips through for our opposites, who
seem to fill
Their days with futzing. So the Pedant and his Princess Bride
Faced off against each other and from teasing began to deride
Qualities in their mates that were opposite their own: I heard
wouldn't hurt you to read a good book." She got him with,
For that matter, it wouldn't hurt you to write one."
And now decorum fell
By the wayside, with the husband publicly unmanned.
"How can I, with her constant interruptions?" he
gestured as he scanned
The faces of his grudging guests. And then she said it: "Oh
come on. . . .
I mean, it's not like you're writing fucking Kubla Khan."
. . . We busied ourselves with coffee and cake
And calculated the earliest acceptable time to take
Our leave. A man elbowed his wife. A woman fingered her purse.
Your opposite is who you'd be, if you'd been better or worse.
Figuring out which it is occupies many a couple's day.
attract? No. They advance.
Like warring factions on a field, ill suited for romance.
yourself, then find your mate.
Your opposite is the one you come to hate.
Balistreri curates the Pink Pony West Reading Series on Friday
nights at Cornelia Street Cafe in Manhattan, Her chapbook,
a taxonomy of illness, is called The Evasion-English Dictionary.
Her website is www.Cafemo.com