Stale sunrises taste of the drinking nights
saying goodbye to you. The salty tears
of salted eyes make the homeward lights
shake and bend. And silhouettes of years
behind us mime on empty bedroom walls:
a mime of loss, a mime of grief, of love.
Of friendship. Of finished years. All appalls
in memory’s eye. All signed in fate above
and sealed with a longing, desperate glance
at a photograph. Somewhen. This is lust
losing to an inevitable night, a final dance
never danced. And fading as all songs must.
All the nearly maybes haul through the dark.
And morning shakes enough to fall apart.
ByRD, June 1st, 2003
This poem… Well! This poem was written for a very dear friend of mine – a male friend – who was closer to me for a number of years than anyone else. We really were best friends – familiar enough to each other that our parents allowed us to sleep over at each other’s houses and never doubted that our friendship was only that. For many years prior to, and after, June 1st 2003 I had a feeling that he and I were soul-mates. If I believed in soul-mates (which it turns out, I don’t).
This man is not my husband, now, but I do believe that we were in love with each other for a long time. He did once try and proclaim love to me, but I resisted, feeling that our relationship would have been doomed from the beginning. I thought that we knew each other too well. I actually still believe that this boy-man (remember, he was eighteen at the time) probably loved me as unconditionally as anyone ever has.
By the time I wrote this poem I had started to feel, and possibly regret, what we were missing out on. Friends-turned-lovers. (Incidentally, I only ever had to make this decision one other time in my life: that man is my husband). I remember riding the early bus home from school with him on this day, June 1st, sitting next to each other as close as we could despite the fact we were two of the only people on the vehicle, and breathing in the way he smelled. It brought a rush of feelings to me that I had never felt about a person – even about my “first love boyfriend” (who crops up again in many later poems).
I remember at that moment really wanting this person in a very physical and possessive way. Maybe it was sexual, I don’t know. All I know is that I think this moment will stay with me forever – this first moment of feeling real romantic love, and simultaneously knowing that it was doomed. I felt it and grieved it at the same time.
A few weeks later this boy and I spend a wonderful and terrible evening together – one of those evenings that only teenagers have, where every hour lasts several days, and every conversation is deeper than the last. We probably broke each others’ hearts that evening. Our friendship never recovered and we didn’t speak for nearly a year. A week later I rekindled my relationship with my first boyfriend, who I adored, but who I didn’t ever have a moment of such intense feeling with as the moment that inspired this poem.
In case anyone is wondering, I have reclaimed a kind of friendship with this person – although he lives in England and I haven’t seen him since I got engaged. I think of him all the time: I find him sneaking into my memories, and sometimes I do wonder what would have happened had we really taken a chance on each other at age eighteen.