[This year is the 20th anniversary of Cape Cod Light by Michael Hattersley. The other parts of this series are here.]
Breaking up is hard to do, and many of us look back on old relationships and grimace at how we behaved, how we were treated, and so on. The silver lining, for those who grow emotionally, is that we learn from our past mistakes and become better partners, and learn to partner with more compatible people in the future.
Michael had a rough childhood, as an army brat moving around the world, then later as a cerebral and gay teenager. His mother raised him to be proper and not complain—stiff British upper lip and all that—and that rearing ultimately served him well and shaped a lot of what made him so special.
He grew to understand that successful relationships require sacrifice and nurturing and growth, and not to feel entitled to other people’s good behavior, even a lover’s.
Michael had a poet’s knack for perfectly articulating, in a few words, nebulous feelings you could never quite articulate, or even think about clearly, especially about love.
The eleventh poem in Cape Cod Light is The Loved One, about a certain sort of lover.
The Loved One
I know if I’m wrong you won’t defend me.
You’ll call your mother and tell her how wrong.
If I’m bitchy
Everyone will hear about it at once.
You weren’t raised the way I was
To say everything’s just fine,
To wake up as a child,
Eat breakfast, and walk out
To face the angry bullies on the schoolbus.
You never needed to explain.
You grew up convinced it didn’t make sense.
When you found love, you took it,
Something that was happening, like weather.
The next poem is here.