Background Notes for Temp Lover
Who hasn’t indulged in thinking of someone else when making love? Everyone does it. Take it up another notch – even when you’ve found your one true love, your one and only, your nobody-else-but, you’re a liar if you claim you never again have any time when you see someone else there in your arms, some celebrity or some past lover or someone you wish had worked out. Nothing wrong with that – it’s healthy if you’re not using it to escape the reality of whom you’re actually with, and even the lover in your arms ought not be offended, ought not stop mid-lovemaking, ought not attempt to possess and control your thoughts and your love so rigidly as to run acid through your brain to clear it all out, not when your desire for the one in your mind is a part of the love you are sharing with the one you are with.
Ditto, how universal it is that we like when we know that someone who loves us is thinking of us when making love with someone else. Everyone has felt that. Everyone. Admit it, we all want it, even the most jealous among us. We want to be thought of, even in those most private and intimate times our beloved shares with someone else.
This poem reaches past that to try recognizing something I found in the complete reverse direction: how very strong and true and exciting it can be to have had my lover go out of her way to forget me completely when she is with another lover, then how she feels coming back to my arms.
It is maybe like sleeping through a dream that is unknown and unreachable and beyond remembering, then waking back up and knowing without any amnesia at all who this is still lying close beside you, who was here all along, even when you were not thinking of or remembering at all.
I found myself thinking of you every single time I was making love with someone else, even the men I have been with since first knowing your love. Then I found myself thinking of you at work, how it would be to be doing projects together and negotiating with clients together and making deals together. Then I found myself always seeing you in the car beside me whether I was alone or riding with someone else. I found myself cooking with you when I was cooking for myself or others or even being cooked for. I found myself running beside you when I was out exercising. I found myself reading to you, bathing with you, laughing with you, hell even arguing with you when it was others I was being at odds with. Like thinking of you in bed with me when it was someone else, you kept popping up everywhere in my life, all over the place, all the time.
So I thought maybe I should at least try to do something without you. To write a poem just for me. To do a kind act just for someone random. To make love without pretending it was you there. And at first I thought it actually could be done. Then I came back and lay with you and felt how close you were inside me, part of me, something I can’t be without even when I think I’m not thinking of you, even when it’s supposed to be all for me or only for someone else. And I found out how much a part of me you really are, in that moment of realizing how you are there even when I go out of my way to do it without you. Which showed me in a new way what I already knew: I do love you.
So this poem was me thinking that maybe if you were to do the same thing, you would see in a new way what you and I both do already know: you do love me.
— Denise, for Cynthia