A couple of weeks ago, my mother came to visit me. She came, as she always does, bearing many gifts. Asher and I both get to sit on the floor unpacking boxes of books and treasures while my mom unpacks several coolers-worth of food into my fridge. It is a treasured ritual and I'm always grateful.
This time, at the bottom of one of the boxes was a self-published chapbook of poetry that an old friend of mine had written several years ago. I've blogged a few times over the years about this particular friend, as she was a fierce, first love of mine. My love for her is where my love for writing was born, and where it began to take shape. She is mentioned in this story, which some of you may have read.
When I saw the chapbook, I was overcome with a sense of sorrow (in the best way) and excitement. I wasn't sad, necessarily, it was more of a sense of profound nostalgia for things that are very far gone. The things that we remember so deeply but must surrender to the powerful currents of time and space. As soon as I saw the book, I knew that I would be in it. I mean this literally -- I knew that there would be poems about me inside this book. Vague memories passed through my mind; I remembered hearing that she had been in a poetry program and was writing a chapbook. However, we've only been minimally connected over the recent years, and I never saw hide nor hair of the book. I couldn't recall her ever sending me any drafts of the poems at any point.
Sure enough, I looked through the pages. Memories of our time together was indeed woven throughout many of the pages. She and I shared something so big, it's hard to reminisce about it. Truly, our love was made for poetry, as it's hard to express in other ways. How does one really recount the story of a literary love affair between 14-year-old girls? How does one express the profound nature of the love and transformation that we experienced together? Such transformational love is often coupled with a sexual dynamic, but ours never was. But it was that kind of relationship: We were everything. We were in love. We found the depths together and shared a flame while we explored it.
On one of the pages was a poem entirely about me.
The poem stands alone, of course, as a poem. Anyone can read it and absorb what they will. But to me, this is an anthem of a bygone era, of my first love, of a chapter that I lived long ago. This poem is a shared language between the two of us, an ode to the importance of love and vulnerability and trust; we are but a product of our moments and our memories. We call in our lovers in whatever form we need them -- our teachers come in many guises, and if we are open to it, they will change us forever.
This post is my thank-you letter to my friend who wrote the poem. It is a commentary on love and changing-tides and the thrill of trusting your heart and knowing true love when it is there.
Poem by Allison Hilborn. She currently provides daily doses of wisdom and inspiration here.