The Stings Our Hearts Get

You might have been
my first,

leaving me humiliated,
wondering what I’d done wrong,
how I could’ve been better
for you.

I realized later,
when I heard she ate sticks of butter
and cut herself for attention,

that sometimes
the stings our hearts get,
as children in love,
are like vaccinations,
for later relationships,

to keep us from getting infected
by idiocy.

What I learned from you
was that some people won’t love me,
not because I’m not good enough,

but because they genuinely want
someone more damaged
than me.

I couldn’t give it to you then,
and I wouldn’t dream
of giving it to you now;

you taught me
to hold on to myself,

and while I didn’t always
remember that lesson
when I should have,

I’m grateful
that you taught it to me

while I was young enough
to have my magical mother
bake me brownies
to soothe my broken heart.

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