He sticks his tongue out when he adjusts his tie,
Brooks Brothers, but Lisa Simpson on Fridays.
At his conferences, the students call him Doctor,
But he signs a smiley face looped in his M.D.
Twenty-three, he drives a Scion, secondhand
But he’s racing bumper cars with his sister at the fair.
He eats his mother’s oranges on his way to work
And orders his milk tea not half sweet but double.
Only I know that the man in the navy suit
doesn’t take off his class ring when he showers
still holds his college graduation bear
and wears a smile on his face when he falls asleep.
They think he’s stressed out when they hear him,
The lifted eyebrows and trebled grunt of his snore,
But he’s chasing penguins in the Arctic, telling talking birds which way to go.
Some nights we make love in patterns, too tired for improvisation.
He digs in like a starving ragamuffin, laps up like he’s dying of thirst.
We’ll wrestle like high school glory days;
he’ll lean over and make expressions to make me laugh,
unaware that we’re both putting on faces.
For him, I’ll pray each night he stays untarnished
– even when we use each other to accomplish certain gains.
Yet the game is in his hands even if the cards are in my favor:
because only children willingly play to play,
the adults leave the table when they lose a game.
This poem is included in The Sophomore Year Experience poetry compilation.