What Nobody Knows


On first glance
I saw his white t-shirt
under the button-down,
and I knew I didn’t
have a chance…

I’ve always been
a sucker for that look –
someone who takes the time
to dress right,
regardless the situation.

My heart leapt (or dropped?)
and my stomach was filled
with fluttering butterflies,
and I knew that I was

That white t-shirt
continued to draw me.
When the button-down
was removed; white becoming
the buffer for dirt.

That’s when I first
learned its scent,
a scent all its own—
the mashup of
cologne, sweat, and dirt…

A scent I could pick out
in a crowd.
A scent that would linger
after embraces
had long parted.

Soon came a day, just right,
when the shirt
was peeled away…
given to me to be kept
by my pillow at night.

My nose filled me
with memories as
a shirt became my security
blanketing me with memories…
which weren’t enough.

Too much time
holding onto a t-shirt
became synonymous
with holding onto his
empty promises.

What nobody knows,
I cried all the way
to the post office,
to drop a package
in the mail.

A plain white t-shirt.

Paula Wanken

Shared at Poetic Asides for PAD 2015 – Day 29: What Nobody Knows

** what nobody knows is if this is autobiographical or not **



  1. Wow. This was a great story of love, lust, loss and wisdom. I liked reading all the details – as a man I never know what details women are catching from men. Then, how the chapters played out, like a movie – which is, a compliment. 🙂 Mosk


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