I lost my Ronnie when I was only 58. 58! Can you imagine? I was so young then, but I wasn’t interested in anyone else. I often fantasized that Ronnie died (I know, terrible!) but then when he really did die (heart) I missed him so much. About a year later, a man tried to touch me at a party (a retirement party for Lulu’s husband Ralph). I slapped him and went home crying before they even served the cake. I spent a decade crying. I didn’t even touch myself, if you know what I mean. My daughter gave me this—I don’t know what it’s called—a dildo maybe? It was purple, and it scared me to death! But then, when I was 68, I met Herbert (at the community center—I was volunteering and he came in asking if there were any regular card games). I don’t know why I went out with him— perhaps because he seemed very gentle. After our date (Giorgio’s—I had the flounder, a little dry, but OK, and very nice bread) he asked me back to his condo (Sea Towers, eighth floor, ocean view, very neat) to watch a movie (Turner Classics). Then, after an hour or so, he told me he had a second TV in his bedroom and asked me to lie down with him there. I said, “Are you crazy? This is our first date…” and he said, “But I have prostate problems. Really, all I want to do is lie down and hold you.” Well, I was hooked. We’ve been together for over ten years. No sex! He just kisses me (no tongue even) and rubs my back. His doctor wanted to give him Viagra, but I told him, “Herbert, you get those pills and it’s all over.” He’s not interested, really, either. Sometimes we stay up all night listening to records (he still has a stereo that works) and holding hands. It’s incredible. I feel like a schoolgirl again.
from Ka-Ching! (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009)
Denise Duhamel’s most recent books of poetry include Ka-ching!, Two and Two (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009 and 2005) and Mille et Un Sentiments, a limited edition chapbook (Firewheel Editions, 2005), Queen for a Day (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001) and The Star Spangled Banner (Southern Illinois University Press,1999). Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative Poetry (an anthology which Duhamel edited with Maureen Seaton and David Trinidad) was published in 2006 from Soft Skull Press. A winner of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, she is a professor at Florida International University in Miami.