The Friends I’ll Never Have

by Michael Lavers

I imagine them not thinking of me, never
about to call: maybe a woman in a greenish
dress, a man in a white cap mixing cement.
I’d like to meet them, only not enough
to drop what I’m doing: relishing another
quiet evening in, adding another scoop
of ice cream to the pie, thinking how rich
my life is in their absence, all the funerals
and brunches I’m avoiding, all that chatter.
They’d love that about me, my hatred
of reunions, the way I never drop in unannounced,
asking for this or that. He’s not much fun
at parties, they’d admit, but can be counted on
in the kitchen, scrubbing the pots while the rest of us
talk long into the night. It hurts to contemplate
how beautiful they are, how terrifying
their attachment to me is, flawed as I am.
Better to stay at home where I can doze
and take another slice of pie and loosen
my belt without their patient faces looking
disappointed, or, much worse, not disappointed
enough, as if they knew how little I could
offer, being all thumbs with a trowel, fashion-blind.
Better if they don’t see how my interest
in their stories melts when set against these
roasted pecans, this vanilla glaze. Better
not to force them to my place every few years
only to tell each other what cannot be true:
you haven’t aged a day; just look at you.

Published on October 1, 2020