My Mistakes

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enjoy going over all the things I shouldn’t have said or done, the names and words I mispronounced publicly, introductions I screwed up, friends I insulted without wanting to or knowing why. Often, they’ll complain about what they see as my obliviousness concerning practical matters, such as inflating my car’s tires correctly, or why, once during a radio interview I said something vaguely critical about a poet I greatly admired for a reason I still don’t understand. Yes, the host was looking for gossip, I’ll say in my defense, okay, sure, this one mistake will remind me, hoarding it over all the others, but I didn’t have to accommodate him. Yes, indeed, they quibble about their importance in my hierarchy of unforgiveable mistakes. One waits until I’m asleep to ask the same loathsome question: why, after all my father poems, in my one mother poem, did I mention her bunions and weak ankles, which hurt her so deeply? Yes, why, after all she sacrificed for me? Is this why I don’t do social media because I’m afraid what they’ll say about me? Some are contrite, especially before I’m about to speak publicly, when I’m most vulnerable, then do their best to strip me of any lingering confidence. Often, late at night, they’ll ask if they’re my responsibility or their own? Yes, who’s controlling who, they’ll demand to know. I do my best to ignore them, focus on more immediate matters, like bill-paying and walking my dog Binx along the ocean—when there they are, walking behind, bickering about which did the most harm, is the worst. I’ll speak up, of course, remind them who provides a home, but they know our addiction is mutual, one unforgettable mispronunciation at a time.