Poem Posted: 650 words
I don’t want to spoil this with an introduction, but I do need to say some things. One, I’m not really a poet. These are just some spontaneous thoughts on something that’s very personal and important in my life. Second, this isn’t really about anyone in particular, don’t try to read any one person into this. It’s a conglomeration of experiences and relationships with both guys and girls. And three, the amazing cover image is by Fiona Hanley. Without further ado, the poem:
Twelve years all cram into the next twelve seconds
Like the slow motion they play in the movies.
We were little kids then, and everything was easy.
Inseparable friends, roaming around and having fun
Looking for adventure and excitement.
You were just a little girl, with blonde curls that bounced,
Held in place with a red ribbon. And before we grew up
And things became awkward, we played together, and didn’t
Worry about anything more than that. You were older,
But I was taller and that made the difference.
Hiking through the woods and killing monsters,
Sliding down the slides at the water park in the summer,
Eating popsicles when they’re all melty and run down your hand,
Jumping on the trampoline and looking up at the clouds.
Little kids don’t have anything to worry about except fun.
They can take a helium balloon and let it float upwards
Until it pops, but they can’t see that coming. They just see
The balloon going up and up and up. I wish my life could
Just go up and up without ever popping,
But adults invented something called Growing Up.
And those twelve years are gone like so many seconds.
Outside, the gravel driveway is crunching like a thousand egshells.
I walk to the door, but then I sit down again and wait.
You open the door, and for a little while, nothing has changed.
You smile, and for a little while you’re my best friend again,
And we can go hiking in the woods or eat popsicles again
Just like the old days. But Growing Up has hit us both,
And we stand their awkwardly, looking at everything but each other.
For a little while we try to talk about little things,
Like the football game and why it needs to rain so much.
Then we lapse into an awkward silence.
I try to call up the memories again, that magical time
When we could just be friends and not worry about all that.
But even as I’m about to talk about it the words die.
Popsicles? Water slides? To Grown Ups these are Silly.
But the magic of it isn’t in hiking or trampolines.
It’s the being there for each other. Not talking, but
The quiet in the room from being together
Just sitting and being, when your grandmother has died
And you’re hurting, trying to hold back the tears.
And the magic is what is so elusive.Andrew Joyce
You can’t bring it back once it’s gone, and you can’t
Capture it when you’re there. Even when it’s there
It’s like a transparent butterfly, fluttering around the room.
Every so often you catch a glimpse of the wings,
Flashing in the sunlight with a barely noticeable feathery sound.
And we try to bring back that butterfly, even for an instant.
You tell me about how you are going to study
Cosmetology and make a living making other people beautiful.
I try to tell you about computers, and all the books I’m reading.
But there’s a pause, and we both realize with a start
All we have in common to talk about is the weather.
It’s amazing what a year can do. Different dreams,
Now we’re strangers in an elevator, who pretend not to see each other.
How did we get so far apart? Growing Up is how.
It’s time to leave; you give me a hug, but it’s awkward and short.
Then the car backs away, down the driveway and out of my life.
I feel like the guys who clean up the bleachers after a basketball game.
Everything is over and done, and I am alone once again. But still,
I wish you could be that little girl again.