fear of waiting


Fear of Waiting
Jamaal May
I love too many women is not the best lead-in
for a conversation that will end
with me telling you I love you
for the first time. And this might not be
the best first date topic. I know this,
but I know it the same way
twelve-year-old me knew the firecracker
in my hand would be a dull burst
lost in the grass if I let it go too soon—
I’m asking if you are like me.
Do you let go too soon? Are you afraid
more of having hands covered in ash
than you are of getting the timing wrong?
This is stupid, but I couldn’t wait

to tell you everything
about the stranger, who after pushing
a peppermint over my teeth with her tongue,
told me she never wanted to leave
the listening range of my rambling.
This meant a lot coming from a wanderer
who would never have to hear it again;
I was booked on a plane that had already boarded
when a voice calling my name over the PA
reminded me I could not afford to wait for a later flight,

and ever since, I’ve been wondering
what runway my hesitation will invoke next,
wondering if it was bad timing
to finally ask for the dance I promised
after you had already become a twirling body
and nervous hand spilling rum across
someone else’s shoes? I get it, you got sick
of your life standing like a loaded gun—
everyday with me another hangfire. This wait
isn’t foreign to any of us. This wait is a friend
splitting blinds, looking for his cliché of a father.
It is a foot pressed against the door
of a locked closet. A girl stands on line in the rain
holding two concert tickets and this
is what rattles us, the space after
a question mark. Blood work and CAT scans.
What man faces a firing squad
without eventually longing for an exit wound.
This is stupid, but I was afraid to tell you

I kept fiddling with my phone through dinner
because I was fascinated
that every time I tried to type love,
I miss the o and hit i instead.
I live you is a mistake I make so often,
I wonder if it’s not
what I’ve been really meaning to say.

I want to say there is patience at the center
of every firework I hear bloom
from my balcony, signaling the end
of a Tigers game, but I can’t see them.
The second floor isn’t high enough. Clouds
above the taller buildings flicker, reflecting
their light, so tonight I’m going to watch that instead.
Make an evening of it. A dinner date
with myself and a bowl of handmade guacamole
from Honey Bee Market, and this time
I’m going to wait
to find out if one, just one,
can get high enough for me to see it explode.

Photo by Yosh Ginsu on Unsplash

Leave a Reply