Sunday, May 23, 2010

A poem

I don't think of myself as a poet--much less a good poet--but I do write them from time to time.

It's quite odd what prompts a poem. For this one it was a phrase that came to my mind a week or so ago and I wondered how to make it part of something I wrote. Here is the phrase: "It was not so much what they didn't say, as how they chose not to say it."

That phrase has haunted me somehow. So I wrote this poem so I could use it.

A fiat--this, like all poetry, all fiction, is NOT TRUE. It never really happened. And there were things in my memory that prompted the setting and the characters and the story. This is a narrative poem, a poem with a story. I call it,


Love is like that, from time to time, I suppose.
The unspoken part is what I mean.

A lunch with my friend and parishioner,
to talk about the marriage
collapsing around him.

How complicated to be both a friend and a priest.

We ate at a place near the church.
They do the best fried calamari
I've ever eaten
in a restaurant not near the coast.

So I had that with a salad and blue cheese on the side.
He had the Sole Florentine.

We both had three glasses of Pino Grigio.

He told me how profoundly
he loved his wife.
His eyes were glazed with wine and passion.

"I'd do anything," he told me,
a piece of whitefish on his chin,
"anything to have her back."
And I believed him.

A good meal is an odd confessional,
though we were in one of the booths
against the wall,
with photos of city landmarks
on the wall.

Sealed as I was,
I could not tell him it was
the self-same booth where
his wife had told me,
a week before,
the same things in the same way.
Longing to have him back.
Loving him greatly.

I told him exactly what I had told her,
seven days before:
"Speak it aloud. Tell of your love...."

We left after coffee.
It was a deja vu
of my lunch with her, down to the instistance
that he pay, just as she had.

The same words were spoken exactly:
"For your ear, Padre."

Both of them said precisely that,
being friends deep enough to call me "Padre",
a sort of in-joke of good friends.

Credit Card and signature exchanged,
We stepped into the September sun
and literally, literally,
bumped into his wife
and her friend from work
coming for a late lunch.

We all knew each other.
I embraced the two women
in a priestly way,
he shook their hands.

I'd seen them both
in a place of longing and hope.

I thought of breaking my vow of silence,
of telling them each what the other felt.
And I could not,
though perhaps I should have.

They were polite and cool--
I longed for them to fall
into each other's arms,
weeping and speaking the Truth.

But Truth was not spoken.
Instead, they smiled awkwardly,
were distant,
agreed without details
'to get together'
and moved away,
one full and both hungry.

Sometimes love is like that, I suppose.

It was not so much
what they didn't say
as how they chose
not to say it.

(Sorry I posted an unfinished version earlier. Too may keys on the keyboard that do things mysterious to me....)

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.