Failure, you were unwelcome in my parent’s home.
I was not allowed
to play with you and
if you happened to show up,
I blushed and looked away.
Like the irreversible scald
of hot tea down the throat, I have never forgotten
a single wrong answer or mistake.
You strode red across my pages of uneven script,
you were all the balls
I couldn’t catch, the cheerleading squad I didn’t make,
my tongue-tied response to boys.
I was an expert at ignoring you,
turning my back, pretending I couldn’t feel
the smoke of your breath on my neck.
Then I fell in love and married
a man who dallied with you,
who danced with you
until both were consumed
by flame and burnt to a fine ash.
He rose time and again
out of your powdery womb.
I was jealous.
Secretly, I began to flirt with you. Little slips at first,
unanswered phone calls, forgotten bills.
Then books unpublished,
projects scrapped, foolhardy investments,
crashed car, crashed marriage.
I thought everyone would hate me
if I associated with you, but found
some even liked me better
for my slumming.
Failure, I can no longer deny you.
We are uneasy
partners, fickle perhaps,
but intimates just the same.