No prince charming

When a friend sent this to me, I read it with increasing absorption. It moved me deeply—and does again as I post it here. We humans are complex. It is no wonder love doesn’t come in tidy packages, all predictable and easy.

I’m grateful to the author, who prefers to remain anonymous, for allowing me to post this poem on Catching Courage.

Love cards

Love is a gamble, photo by Javier Delgado

My father is a drama teacher
My mother an activist lesbian
Tell me,
What hope had I
To fall for prince charming?

A girl pulled me out of my book
One day in junior high
To apologise for calling something gay

She hadn’t known, you see
That our science teacher was my stepmother
My mother’s lover
The woman who revealed the problem
Of our tidy little nuclear family
There was no want of love
No fights, no cheating
Just a mismatched pair
Who made two kids before they moved on to new love

And those two kids
Grew up knowing not to talk about their mothers
Not to invite friends over
Because who knew how they might react
My friend said “ew”
When I asked her what she thought of two women loving each other
We weren’t even old enough to understand love, much less sex
But so began ten years of silence

Years that exploded into pain
When they finally passed that bill
Making my family legal
And I realized it made no difference
Because they were still going to say “ew”

So yes, I do discriminate
I shy away from men who play sports and drive trucks
Women who wear makeup, short skirts, high heels
I find it hard to give them the benefit of the doubt
When I know what I risk

I will never fall for prince charming
I do not see his white horse
His shining armour
Instead, I see him bearing down upon me
With his sword of society

Sharpened with conformity
Asking me to be what I am not
And that is,

And that is what?
What am I not, that I do not understand
How to respond when a man looks at me?
What am I not, that I cannot be content
With the simple answer
With white pickets, golden retrievers, station wagons?

God and Goddess know I want it
I want to come home from work
To my two-point-four children
make dinner with my partner
Read aloud as night draws in
And curl up in bed with the man I love

but what man shall I love?
Every song book movie tv show person I meet
Tells me love is everything, overcomes everything
I should do anything for love
Let nothing stop me
That I should sacrifice my life for love
That is to say, have no life beyond it

But that doesn’t work so well when he’s gay
I can sacrifice sheep to the pagan gods
But he will never love me
We may sleep like lovers in one bed
Wrestle like brothers
Talk like sisters
Walk like husband and wife
But at the end of the night
He is going home with someone else
and at the end of the day
not only am I alone
I carry the shame of loving the wrong man

Fag hag is an ugly term
It means woman who is too afraid to love a man
Who might actually love her back
Woman who is so pathetic, she cannot let go of the safety
Of a gay man, to have a real life

There is no such word

To describe a straight man who falls in love with a lesbian
Nor any such word for gay men or lesbians
Who fall in love with straight men and women
It is only the poor, pathetic straight women
Who are so named


Why should I be ashamed
To admit even to myself that I love someone?
Why is it worse to love a gay man,
Than to love a married man?
A cruel man?
A man who simply doesn’t love you back?

Why should I feel guilty
For recognizing general compatibility
Even if one of the specifics is not quite right?
My father did
He had a happy marriage,
Two kids he loves
And yes, it ended
But it was never his fault
And he got over it and married another woman
Kind and beautiful and loving

And so will i
Get over gay men
Over and over reject their friendships
Because I am expected to only love straight men
And I will love a straight man
Or perhaps a bi man, a pan man, a transman
But he will not be gay
And we will be happy

But in the meantime
I refuse to feel shame and guilt
For love
I should not have to answer
For the leanings of my heart
If they do no more harm than the average
Unfulfilled crush
I renounce the names you give me
And say I may love whom I love
And suffer the consequences
But never ask forgiveness

~ M.

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10 comments for “No prince charming

  1. March 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Such a powerful piece. So sad, and so full of truth.

  2. March 29, 2012 at 4:11 am

    I loved this poem.

    Please thank the author for sharing it with us. 🙂

  3. March 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I’ll share your comment, Lydia. The author is a very special human being.

  4. March 30, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Couldn’t have been an easy piece to write. I’m so glad it can reach an audience here.

  5. Sterling Haynes
    April 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Great poem and love is a gamble. I want to thank the author for sharing her personal poem. Jessie and I have been married for 57 years and have four daughters. We wouldn’t have missed this love for the world

  6. April 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    You and Jessie are an inspiration.

  7. April 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Is not Cathryn Wellner the most generous person you have found in the world of, yes, goodness–and she defines that word.

  8. April 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    I’m such a fan of yours, dear Mary, that your words bring tears to my eyes.

  9. Rick Hardman
    April 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Such abundant courage displayed. Life is a journey. We so often, know not where we go.

  10. May 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Well said, Rick. From one day to the next, the only certainty is that our lives may round a bend and head off in some unanticipated direction.

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