by Jeremy Byars
This time I’ve chosen not to go.
I’ve taken ill, cursed by recurring
bouts of chills and sweats, muscle aches.
It’s best I stay in bed today.
I choose to have others convey
regrets to relatives, familiar
and strange, who don’t hesitate to bless
my heart, pray it’s only a cold.
Others can feel obliged to concoct
a fresh explanation when asked
about the boy who lives outside
the family with his mother’s parents.
They can entrust my warm wishes
to few kinfolk I care to keep
abreast of my goings on, some who
surely covet my new condition.
I’ll stay horizontal, wrapped
in robes, not minding disposition—
whose sensitivities I must
indulge, opinions I must avoid.
This time I fear no consequence
for my sudden temperament, left
to my own selfish devices—soon
to exist only in hushed tones.
Then pretexts and complex excuses
fail, ceding to whispers of regret
about this self-imposed exile
and the boy they might as well forget.