Coffee With An Ex


Sometimes you reach back,
unearth an ex.
It never works, does it?

You’re not looking for trouble,
god no.
All you want is corroboration,
proof of where you’ve been.

You do not remember the intimacy,
though that was once your world:
the smell of her skin,
the way she kissed.
You do remember
her laugh, her anger,
her moments of grief.
Her youth is yours to keep.

The years have broadened her face,
coarsened her hair,
and this makes you tender.
But her stories only bewilder—
how can you both be right?
The distance between you
makes itself clear.
Who knew you would leave
with less than you came with?

You have more in common with a stranger,
someone who never met
the person you are not.

Photo by chichacha on / CC BY

Published by

Jean Ryan

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Napa, California. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. Her short story collections, SURVIVAL SKILLS and LOVERS AND LONERS, are available online. STRANGE COMPANY, a collection of short nature essays, is available in paperback as well as digital and audio editions.

17 thoughts on “Coffee With An Ex

  1. I’m at the gym and damn near fell off the elliptical reading this poem. What is deeper than insight? I saw a friend last night who told me she ran into an ex and how it felt so awkward like waving at someone mistaken as someone else. That vibe. To leave with less than you came with…… brilliant. Thank you Jean Ryan.

  2. “Her youth is yours to keep”…a re-read line from this piece. As usual, you paint such intriguing pictures with your words.

  3. Thank you Jean once again for putting into words what some of us think about but have no words.

  4. Never have I left with less than I started with. Constantly honoring the moment to love someone though the time may be past yet the memories and love in my heart keeps beating and I know them forever.

    1. Thank you for this insightful reply, Bern. Memories are indeed magical, keeping alive everything we lived though. But I think we arrive at a bittersweet junction when we meet up with our past loves years later and see how the past, though treasured, cannot be recreated.

  5. I agree this is true it can not be recreated only treasured when looking back. Your awesome prose with it’s bare bones truth enspired thought and retrospection I commented from an emotional place. Thank you Jean, for sharing your talent.

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