Traction

We’re driving to meet friends,
and you say, When I’m in San Diego, 
I’ll call my old girlfriend. 
And I say, 

What old girlfriend?!

After 40 years you spill: The summer of
my junior year, I dated a beautiful girl,

(you sigh as you say her name) Sentra Sanders. 
But she had this boyfriend in Boulder.
When she went to see him,
I took her to the train, gave her a poem
to read later and kissed her goodbye.

You gave her a poem! Forty years. I never 
got a poem. What did it say?

I don’t recall, but it worked! Ruined her trip,
she was torn between him and me.

And then?

We kept dating, but never got any traction.

Traction?! What kind of traction?

There was that one time, years later. 
We were at a wedding. She wanted
to come to my apartment. This was it. 
Too much drinking, and we napped. 
At 4 a.m. I took her home. 
No traction.

You’ve etched each detail in your mind.
Any further attempts at traction?
I called her about 30 years ago.

While we were married?!

Well, I was in San Diego.

Alone and looking for traction?
If I’d known, you would have
slept on the couch for weeks.

That’s why I didn’t tell you. I learned
she was married and volunteered with vets.

No worries, Sweetheart. 
When you return to San Diego,
I will give you a poem to ruin your trip, 
and leave you torn between two loves, 
needing traction— 
from multiple physical therapists.

Jeanie Greensfelder is a poet in San Luis Obispo, CA.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

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