Meltdown

She’s coming next week,
the new girlfriend,
and though i’m eager to meet Her,
i worry i’ll embarrass
my son
when She sees
an overweight,
out of shape
redhead from a bottle.
a woman who has
pretty teeth
(thanks, mom)
but too many chins
and a face that
increasingly
resembles her
daddy’s side of the family.

i know nothing about Her
save her name.
that’s unusual,
but He tells me He wants
me to meet Her
with fresh eyes.

does She like to read
and if so, what?
does she paint?
dance?
draw?
stitch?
garden?

does She
laugh easily and often?

does She enjoy long
philosophical talks
that go into the
dark:thirty hours?

does She cheat at canasta?
shop off the list?

will She be territorial?
possessive?
will i feel the need to
ask Her permission to
spend time with my son alone?

will He make apologies
dressed as
explanations
on their way back to colorado?
there was a time
when i lived to
embarrass Him,
but He’s not in
high school any more.

i remember the first
time i took my husband
to my grandparents’ house.
it was as though i were
visiting for the first time, too.
seeing the concrete block steps,
the small, rickety handrail.
the rusty screen door,
the mesh full of holes that
allowed flies to traipse
in and out of that kitchen
at will.
the gold ceramic fish
with three different-sized
bubbles that decorated
the single bathroom.

it was the first time i noticed
that their feather bed
with the vinyl-covered headboard
was in their den,
the room that housed
not only their bed
but two rocking chairs, a space heater,
grandmother’s treadle sewing machine,
the dresser,
home of necessary toiletries
and fabric scraps,
the telephone on the wall,
and the television
that all but dialed itself
to live atlanta wrestling
every saturday night.

it was the first time i saw
that the combination
bedroom/den
was illuminated by a
single bare bulb
hanging down from the ceiling.

i wasn’t at all embarrassed,
just surprised that
i’d never really
seen these things before.
that the place where i’d spent so much
of my life
was new to me
on that day.