Poems

How Are You Doing?

How are you doing??

He asked,

and I could almost feel

his genuine excitement

and interest in me,

until I remembered

he was far away

and we were no longer

lovers, but friends now,

communicating hours apart,

and over days and weeks,

between two screens

Was there anything genuine

about digitized characters

on white backgrounds

if what I wanted

was the kind of romance

where devotions were written

in cursive

upon scented stationery,

and shared with urgency?

I wanted to ignore him longer,

but I couldn’t.

I wanted to tell him everything,

but I didn’t.

I’d been here before,

but I hadn’t.

This was my new life,

in a new year, being a new me.

I had gone away

and left behind

all my previous derangements,

I’d made plans

to find myself,

follow my dreams,

pursue my passions

and prove to myself

that I could do it:

I could make something

from nothing,

I could manifest

a whole new reality

from inside of me

I could do anything probably,

except deal

with the unexpected,

except

comprehend my own feelings,

except know

what to do

about a visitor and his bags,

a boy and his smile,

a man and his mind,

a shape-shifter and his lies,

a force

and his will in my way,

his face in my eyes,

his silence in my space

I didn’t ask for this, or maybe I did.

But I don’t know what to say now.

How am I doing??

Double question mark

??

I miss you.

I wish I was with you.

I wish you hadn’t said what you did.

I wish I hadn’t said what I did.

But I don’t want to force anyone

to do anything.

I’ve learned that much in life.

Let people go.

Let them be.

Let people go.

Let them be.

I’m doing fine.

I’m doing well.

My ankle is healing.

I’m working.

I’m earning my living

and it looks like

my company

will get off the ground.

I’m going to write a script

and keep working and traveling.

I’m doing all right for now,

professionally.

And that helps, mentally.

But I’m still really sad,

and really scared that

I’m destined to be alone.

And it just sucks.

And it haunts me.

And it’s okay,

because it isn’t his fault,

or anyone’s.

It’s the stars and it’s fate.

So in that way

I’m not doing so well.

But it’s constant

so you know,

you learn to live with it.

And I don’t want to be friends

because

I wanted more.

I wanted all of it.

I have always wanted all of it.

I have never

fallen in love with someone

in an instant,

and not wanted all of it.

And feeling like an afterthought

to someone

who consumes your thoughts

is wretched.

But it’s constant

so you know,

you learn to live with it.

I am not doing well with that.

I am making my peace with you

like you’re one of my now three

deceased ex lovers.

He is gone, I tell myself.

He is never coming back.

And then days later,

a text.

How are you doing??

He asks

with his digital smiles and I

cannot say anything at all

because I don’t want to lie

and even though

I’m through crying

I still can’t see the way to what I want.

And so I just freeze up,

and message

literally

any and everybody else

in my contacts list.

Neurotic. That is how I’m doing.

Hati-Hati translates to “Be Careful” or “Caution” in Indonesian.

HATI-HATI by Ruth Nineke is a collection
of love poems, dreams, photography, and personal essays reflecting on the author’s love addiction, romanticism and sexuality.

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