Nothing to change, Nothing to fix

People are fond of saying how men and women can’t be friends
Platonically because of science and the laws of
Attraction but I know it isn’t true

I have heard the secret souls of so many youngish
Men who texted at 1am “Are you still awake I need the
Assignments for tomorrow, the
Girl I like won’t talk to me, the
Website link I’ve forgotten, the
Directions to that party, the
Movie this line is from, the
Song that guy sang that one time”

I’ve patted your backs making those weird
Sympathy noises we humans make while you
Shed tears over other women who acted like you didn’t
Matter over and over dropped my business to help with
Your movies and errands and adventures at the last minute
Loving to make you feel special as you are

Because every last one of you was
Is special to me
But not one of you ever told me I was pretty

I’m married now and he tells me every day
But it haunts me that none of you ever said it
More it haunts me that I needed you to say it like water
To thirst my own intrinsic worth tied to whether
The eyes behind the thumbs that texted me continually
The brains behind the heats that loved me unconditionally
Thought I was pretty

I shouldn’t care and I don’t anymore and I know better than to care
I know the thousands of years of cultural conditioning
In my head it’s all clear that I only want you tell me
I’m pretty because everything tells me that’s my only value
All I bring to the table of our give and our take and
Words and mm-hms and back-rubs and oreos of friendship
Mean nothing if I’m not simultaneously aesthetically pleasing

I know better
Standing in front of the mirror
I know better
Trying another hairstyle
I know better
Skipping another dessert
I know better
I know
I don’t know
Am I pretty?