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I Did Not Know Her Then

February 22, 2013

I did not know her then
but i’ve seen pictures
once or a dozen times
her in her young days
sometimes more clear
in my imagination
a tale my mind keeps tripping over
by mistake, on purpose


looking at the arc of her years
and the stories she traveled
i listen, imagine
my head leans to my friend
as the episodes fall from her lips


so fast
like she has never had
a chance to tell them to another soul
and i am glad to hear each word
because i love a good story?
because she tells them so well?


because i want to hear her secret
the one she will never tell
the one i will never ask
and the ones she does tell
and the ones that are not really secrets


stories from which i leave out names
and even many details
to protect the innocence
and protect myself
as if that this camouflage would ever work


stories of kids, stories of marriage
stories of pets, stories of siblings
stories of her parents
i remember years later
in jogged memories along paths
to which i am supposed to be a stranger


or a spy
to these long yarns, cool on the outside
i listen like the fast-made, new old friend
for whom she forgets to hide the dangling edges
of the secrets, or simple safe words
whose heart mate wandered
like a child looking for a buried treasure


i am coy, even to myself
as she tells me of the boyfriend
the love of almost a quarter century ago
imagine the pictures, try not to look
see them in my mind, by mistake, on purpose
even though i did not know her then
i listen
and wonder why i am so jealous

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2013 1:52 pm

    You write so well. I love the structure of this and the way you have created the imagery. So beautiful and touching.

  2. Kris wilson permalink
    February 22, 2013 5:28 pm

    I love this poem. Such fine work.

  3. February 22, 2013 5:32 pm

    Love this, Clarence. You are a master of lyricism and longing.

  4. February 23, 2013 7:17 am

    Thanks for the kind comments, folks, but now I’m afraid to work on it.

  5. February 23, 2013 5:27 pm

    This is beautiful Clare.

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