When we first met, you asked me to be Ted

& I said it’s easy to be Ted,

I want to be Sylvia & we walked so slowly

time was a toy sailboat on a park lake

& I kept 2 hats in my bag in case we got cold.

When Sylvia told Ted he was a great poet

she meant he was a great manipulator of people —

the way he made their tongues

go eSSS and eLLL in different parts of the mouth.

When we first met,

you asked me to be Ted.

& I said to myself, come on,

what would Sylvia do?

When I say SPRING I mean SPRING.

When Sylvia told Ted

he was a great poet

she meant, like his line breaks,

he was delicate

& elegant in bed.

When I met you I had just given up being Ted

& I begged you to let me be Sylvia

& you were Ted enough to oblige

& time was a boot print on a boat deck

& I was seasick or sealorn

& we sat on a bench & put on our hats

& you gave me some advice that was really for yourself.

When Sylvia told Ted he was a great poet

she meant words were clay & he was a potter.

For instance, she asked him questions she knew the answers to,

to watch him mold his syllables into little gull-shaped lies

that would swoop in the air between them.

When we first met,

you said you could see by the way my front teeth

bit softly my bottom lip to say love

that I was Ted.

& it was you who wanted to be alive

on the page like Sylvia.

But I had just given up being Ted.

So I begged you to let mebe Sylvia & we sat on a bench

& we put on our hats

& you gave me some advice that was really for yourself.

J. Hope Stein is a secret poet living in Brooklyn. "Ted & Sylvia" is from her forthcoming publication titled Occasionally, I Remove Your Brain Through Your Nose*.*