is the word we use to describe our friendship.
And I wonder,
   did I really lose touch with so many people
in a decade?
   How, when I made such an effort, dragging Tom
to every party?
   Except, of course, during those last few years
when I stopped.
   I celebrated small victories if he came to dinner
at my sister’s,
   talked football with her husband, ate pizza,
   that my family mattered to him in some way.
I made peace,
   and put on my best stage face for all his niece’s
   every national holiday or religious observance.
In the beginning,
   overwhelmed by numbers, I struggled to learn
their names.
   Did the tall girl belong to the older sister, but
which father?
   Later, I embraced his large family gatherings
as full of love,
   emotional in ways I did not remember from my
own youth.
   But all the secrets out eventually, all the petty
   the sibling squabbles that make holiday dinners
   We invest so much of ourselves, then suddenly,
it’s over,
   and you are left reconnecting with old friends,
   guiltily, wondering how life’s sincere promises
led you here,
   to be the friend at someone else’s family party.

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