It invites exploration of that vulnerable negotiation of first dates and falling in love, in measuring our story, our family, against other families, other people we might have become, or still could be.
In regard to craft, this poem is wonderful for studying how opening lines draw the reader into the poem, and how they set the scene quickly…
I had a boyfriend who told me stories about his family,
how an argument once ended when his father
seized a lit birthday cake in both hands
and hurled it out a second-story window. That,
…as well as for its narrative arc and the birthday cake that anchors the poem’s story onto the page like sandbags keeping a hot air balloon from lifting off – all that tension of anticipated release held in place.
One of my favorite standalone lines is “and nobody ever forgave anyone. But I believed”(9). If you bring this poem into the classroom, you may want to offer it as a journal prompt, or pair it with “What’s Broken.”
This poem will be among those included in a new current I'm adding to the poems page of Poetry River later this spring: voices of resilience. I'll post more information about this new current soon, and send an announcement to subscribers of Poetry River updates.