I was six years old when I saw Superman.
My child mind could not reconcile the
difference between actor and character.
Wasn’t I just watching other people’s lives
only magnified before my eyes?
Isn’t this what life will be like
when I get a job and fall in love?
In that dark theatre, Superman
replaced Elvis as Man of My Dreams.
That night I wrote a letter to Superman
inviting him to spaghetti dinner.
“What should I write on the envelope, Dad?”
“Just ‘Superman,’ Honey. He’s so famous
his mail doesn’t need an address.”
Dad assured me Superman would get my letter
and arrive promptly for dinner.
(He flew, after all.)
Regrettably Superman never showed.
I could not come to terms with it.
As a young woman, I entertained
the archetypal Superman:
This one sitting across from me must be him.
Or this one lying beside me
or the one opening the door for me
As a girl I did not understand that
Clark Kent and Superman were the same person.
Clark Kent wasn’t my type.
It’s not that I am opposed to vulnerability
only to weakness.
Vulnerability can be sexy, whereas weakness
connotes an unwillingness to live courageously.
Unforgivable in my eyes.
Alas we are not perfect, can never be perfect.
But we can be brave in our imperfection.
I am a woman now, not a girl
a writer of many love letters scented
and kept under the pillows of men
in a lovelorn diaspora.
Flowery philosophy, passion
and lyrical assemblage of
words caught between pages.
Stories of the heart catalogued.
These do not die as love dies:
They stick to memory.
It takes 100 years for paper
to crumble or melt to the touch.
My childhood linguistic
is lost in time.
Forty years later
the only words I recollect
from my letter are:
handsome, spaghetti, love.
While I have found my Superman
(rather late in life)
I still imagine my original letter
to be the most tender piece
in my archive of prose.
It expressed my belief in
a promise to be fulfilled,
my trust that love will win out
no matter how fictitious
the premise appears
and my notion that it is never too late
to be innocent again.