July 15, 2014
i don’t know how many of you have a soul mate,
someone who enters your life so naturally
that you can’t imagine that
they’d not been there
that person is veronica.
and we’ve been friends for a decade this summer.
as she revisits the place where our friendship began,
separated, i struggle to find the words that
do my feelings justice.
so i figured i’d steal someone else’s.
initially, i turned
to a book of poetry
a textbook from the study abroad where we met.
i thought i’d write here some of my favorites:
“the goat paths” by james stephens
since it calls to mind
the ireland i see
when i close
“a last confession” by w.b. yeats
on which i wrote a paper
talking about the homosexual imagery,
the first my professor had read in his career.
the essential “a disused shed in co. wexford” by derek mahon
but while important, i only ever really liked
the title and the second stanza.
“bread” by brendan kennelly
but that last line
is just way too erotic.
but while nostalgic
none were right
(or perhaps not)
i turned to the work of adrienne rich.
in honor of our friendship, past and present,
i give you sonnets i and iii from twenty-one love poems.
Whenever in this city, screens flicker
with pornography, with science-fiction vampires,
victimized hirelings bending to the lash,
we also have to walk . . . if simply as we walk
through the rainsoaked garbage, the tabloid cruelties
of our own neighborhoods.
We need to grasp our lives inseparable
from those rancid dreams, that blurt of metal, those disgraces,
and the red begonia perilously flashing
from a tenement sill six stories high,
or the long-legged young girls playing ball
in the junior highschool playground.
No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,
sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air,
dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,
our animal passion rooted in the city.
Since we’re not young, weeks have to do time
for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp
in time tells me we’re not young.
Did I ever walk the morning streets at twenty,
my limbs streaming with a purer joy?
did I lean from my window over the city
listening for the future
as I listen with nerves tuned for your ring?
And you, you move towards me with the same tempo.
Your eyes are everlasting, the green spark
of the blue-eyed grass of early summer
the green-blue wild cress washed by the spring.
At twenty, yes: we thought we’d live forever.
At forty-five, I want to know even our limits.
I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow,
and somehow, each of us will help the other live,
and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.
i can hear the morning birds already.