That Night in Riverside Park

Someone once told me
I didn’t love like an American
She wasn’t able to explain
Didn’t try
Only laughed the American laugh I’ve yet to learn
So twenty-one years later
I still wonder what it takes
To love like an American

Is it enough to have loved in English
For a quarter of a century?
Is it enough that I don’t collapse
At the sight of my children’s injuries
The way my mother did at the sight of mine?
(Or did that have nothing to do
With love, or being Armenian?)

Did I love too loudly?
Was I too present?
Was it that I hadn’t yet learned
The meaning of boundaries and privacy?
They simply didn’t exist
In the languages in which I’d loved before
In the place where my heart had learned to love

Is this what she’d meant?
Or had she just had too much to drink
That night in Riverside Park
Where we shouldn’t have been
Drinking wine out of a bottle
Atop the playground slide?

I only ask because
I wonder
Still
Twenty-one years later
If I should have striven then
To love like an American

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