Just Something You Do
Non, rien de rien, non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu'on m'a fait, ni le mal – Edith Piaf
At eighteen, summer intern in a crummy
office, you flirt with your boss, who’s thirty,
wears black patent slip-ons, and doesn’t like
your music. But one night he takes you
to a restaurant with real waiters, buys you
wine, and talks about an evening at the theater.
So you go back to his apartment for coffee;
instead, he gropes you on the sofa, grunts
something about how sexy you are
and fucks you hard in stiff, fusty sheets,
while you try not to think about why.
He gets you a taxi, and you feel
the driver’s cool eyes raking you, crueller
than the ache in your hips. You call
your boyfriend and know you’ll break
up soon, whether you tell him or not.
Your boss won’t meet your eyes at work
so you look at his terrible shoes. You can’t wait
for the summer to be over, though you walk
like you’d do it again. But it isn’t something
you wish you’d not done, not yet.
It takes years before you can weigh
up the difference: how light you were,
how heavily his body crushed you.
Previously appeared in the Journal of New Jersey Poets 2006