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A poem about difference by Renetta Neal

Not like me!

She leaned across and looked at me; I stared into her eyes,

T’was like looking in a mirror, only she was in disguise.

My eyes were blue and hers were brown, similar other parts,

All that was between us was the rhythm of beating hearts.

Appearing smart and organised; I guessed I looked a scruff,

My thinking mind she couldn’t see but it’d have to be enough.

I imagined she was just like me underneath those clothes,

Her body tight, held rigidly whilst mine languished in repose.

I fancied I listened carefully but no word of hers I uttered,

Most thoughts were mine disorganised, chaotic and cluttered.

Fishing for the response that would make me look so clever,

Whilst staring at her gorgeous boots crafted out of leather.

She spoke about some painful thing and giggled like a child,

I felt it big but followed her and answered rather mild.

I relayed an anecdote, some story from my past,

It seemed rather fitting as our feelings we both masked.

We fell into a quietness, neither knowing where to look,

I rallied in my nervousness and threw us both a hook.

Sharing how difficult these opening sessions can be,

Two minds working together can help us both to see.

The reason for this story, I hope you have figured out,

It’s a hindrance to connection if we listen to self-doubt.

I began by seeing the similarities and how we could connect,

I got caught up in judgements, comparisons and dis-respect.

I judged myself so viciously it took away my power,

To use the skills I enjoyed and a relationship to flower.

I didn’t notice the colour of her skin or the lilt to her voice,

The pain that was in her eyes or that they were moist.

I judged myself inadequate by the clothes we chose to wear,

Not leaving space for experience or an ability to care.

My ears were closed, my heart shut down, no use was I here,

Whilst I obsessed about the fantasies I imagined she’d hold dear.

I judged her, I am aware of it, by comparing us both,

Making up a story and then responding like an oaf.

These days I am quite different and I think there is no shame,

In noticing our differences and giving them a name.

I have noticed that the diversity is easier to explore,

When relationships are caring and honesty is at the fore.

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