Posts Tagged ‘high school’

Love Lessons

There were thousands of wild iris
in the wide, damp meadow.
Forty years later I remember it, still,
the pale purple petals fluttering
in the morning breeze.
The spring air was cold;
my feet squished in the mud,
and I picked armfuls of iris,
each bloom the loveliest.
I picked and picked
as if dozens of iris could convey
how extravagantly I loved a boy.
Loved him beyond measure.
Loved him meadowfuls.
Whole mountainfuls.
It’s so human to long to express
the inexpressible.
Forty years later, I remember
the immensity of that love—
how it changed me, made space in me
for who I am today.
Love is, perhaps, rhizomic,
like iris, spreading where no one can see.
If you could look inside me now,
you’d find fields of iris, infinite acres.
I still long to pick dozens for my loves,
even hundreds, though now I also trust
how sometimes a single stem
says everything.

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The whole time I drove the three-hundred thirteen miles
and thirty-five years back in time,
wondering why I was doing it,
I could not have pictured who I would meet:
one friend now career military
and a yoga instructor.
Another who owned a non-toxic sex toy store
and became a therapist.
Another who is sober but sells margaritas in Vegas.
A long-haired man who had a kundalini awakening.
And a long-haired woman who looks exactly like me,
who once lived in this town and took school so seriously
and sang in the choir and acted in plays
and picked up every lucky penny she ever found
and kept them in her shoes
like a portable bank of good fortune.
I was most surprised,
perhaps, to meet her again.
Not that I don’t remember how awkward she was,
how she didn’t fit in. Even tonight,
I watch with amusement
as she stands at the edge of the crowd.
It is easy to be gentle with her,
to love her now in a way I couldn’t
have loved her then.
Perhaps because now I know
being nerdy will save her,
and it will not matter at all in thirty-five years
that she was not invited to parties.
Look at her tonight, laughing with people
who barely spoke to her all those years ago.
Look at her, hugging her friend as he tells her
how he felt so bullied back then and was sure
the whole school was against him.
How little she knew of his world.
How little she knew of her own.
I would like to get to know her better
as I drive with her back home.

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            for Marne

And though we have not spoken
in over thirty years, today I invite
the memory of my friend to walk
with me in the garden.
That girl would laugh
to learn I’ve become a woman
who weeds, who waters, who grows.
We were uncultivated together,
unrooted, unmanicured,
and blossoming anyway,
windblown and wandering and wild.
I bring that sweet madness now
into the tidy rows and marvel
at how things change.
For a moment, I am running with her
over a hill and spinning
and crashing and laughing.
For a moment, I am again that girl
who is more dream than flesh,
more wish than should, more
me than I ever could be.
How beautiful the song of that memory,
how it rhymes even now with whatever
is green in me.
Even now, I am running,
spinning, crashing, though anyone looking
at the garden might think
I am peacefully deadheading flowers,
talking to the spinach,
painstakingly pulling the weeds.

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