new zealand electronic poetry centre

Jenny Bornholdt

online works


The boyfriends

The boyfriends all love you but they don’t really know how.
They say it is tragic that you will not be together for the rest of
your lives. You will not be together for the rest of your lives
because they are lone spirits and you are a nice girl.
Because your father is a lawyer and because they like to think
they come from the wrong side of town, they say you will marry
a young lawyer. Someone nice, someone stable, someone able to
provide you with all the things you need and are accustomed to,
not a rogue, not an adventurous spirit like themselves. Not
someone who is destined to the lone life.
They say it will be all right for you. You will be very happy, they
can tell. It will all work out for you. You will find a young lawyer,
or a young lawyer will find you and you will get married and be
very happy.
This is what you want, of course.
They say you are made for happiness, anyone can see that.
You will be very happy, you’ll see.
They imagine their own sorrow when the day finally comes.
They tell you about this. They imagine seeing you in town with
your new young lawyer. He will have his arm around your
shoulders. You will be looking happy. He will be looking happy.
You will both be looking very happy. They will look on and feel
tragic about it not working out, about the impossibility of the
great love. Because yours is the great love. The true love. Oh yes.
But it cannot work. The great love never works. The true love is
doomed to fail.
You suspect they have seen too many westerns with too many
cowboys riding off into too many sunsets.

In the end of course, you leave him. There isn’t really much
choice. He is unhappy. Very unhappy. It is not all that romantic.
When you see him in the street you often cannot speak. You just
look at each other. You both cry a lot in public places. Other
people find this embarrassing and so do you.
He says please come back.
He says this is the worst thing that has ever happened. And it is.
Please he says. Please.
But you can’t. Because it would be going back to leaving him.
You prepared yourself to leave him for years. It took such
a long time.
It took years of listening to him leaving you, knowing that
he wouldn’t.
All that leaving.
All that is left is the leaving.


From Moving House (VUP, 1989)

Jenny Bornholdt

Last updated 16 February, 2005