To the woman who has signed up for a single-parent dating seminar because she wants to figure out how to get things right, he says, “It’s like boxing.” Then he laughs and apologizes. To a runner, the metaphor is endurance. To a world traveler, maps and foreign tongues. To a boxer? The next match.

“Sure, hear them out,” he says. “You can get good advice from everywhere. ‘Do it this way. Try that.’All of it probably works.” He halfway smiles. “My trainer teaches me things.” Here, he hunches his shoulders just a fraction and brings his loose fists up to shade his face. “’Use your legs like this, lean like this.’” He shrugs and his hands open like wings. One alights on his thigh hidden just below the table. “My legs might be just a little bit longer. Maybe I have to lean differently. I need to find that out.” Now he lifts his palms and placates an invisible onslaught. Of fists? Advice? Skepticism? “You just have to find your own balance. Your balance.”

The others at the table pause and let this settle in. The only Right is boxing from within your own skin.

And this: Just before ducking into the ring, stuff a pot of hot soup, your grandmother’s crystal champagne flutes, and two Labrador puppies into a rucksack and strap it to your back. Now your job is to fight like a champ and get your cargo home intact.

That is dating as a single parent.

Listen to your trainers. Listen to your friends. Take their advice and give it a test drive. Then make it your own or leave it behind. Notice the place your feet land. Under you? Are you still facing up? If so, then you’re well placed to greet the person who steps between the ropes and gives you a nod.

Dating right is not getting it right. It is righting yourself for the dance.

2 thoughts on “Featherweight”

  1. There they were, his thoughts
    They had been clumsy, glancing blows
    Missed jab, slow cross from a tongue both too loose and too reserved
    Thrown through broken teeth and an uneven footing
    Words about balance, words seeking themselves

    There they are, her words
    Moving with dexterity and purpose
    With heart and perspective, landing true and fierce
    Smooth, embellished, focused, meaningful

    Sign on a door
    Rhythm of leather against canvas beyond
    Poets Wanted
    See the trainer

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