Saturday, May 26, 2012
Once upon a time, when she was twenty something a boy sent her this poem. It was January, nine months before she was married, but also before there were any realizations in her mind of becoming between them. She wonders if he had sent her the poem after they were together and not before if she would have made the same choices.
if she but knew that i am weeping
still for her sake,
that love and sorrow grow with keeping
till they must break,
my heart that breaking will adore her
be hers and die;
if she might hear me once implore her,
would she not sigh?
if she but knew that it would save me
her voice to hear,
saying she pitied me, forgave me,
must she forbear?
if she were told that i was dying,
would she be dumb?
could she content herself with sighing
would she not come?
She left the boy who sent her this poem (who by now she had fallen in love with) for a boy she had been with for four years. Or rather she did not leave him; she just chose not to stray from the path she had already started. For who knows in the space of a friendship turned burgeoning three month courtship that she might want to give up something that had been growing already for four years?
The boy of four years knew about the courtship of three months...and he let it go and he married her anyway. The boy with the courtship let her go and watched her marry the boy of four years. The friends that knew watched them with bated breath as she said her I do's. To the boy of four years she gave her heart. Her wedding gift to the one she left was a long thought out letter and a book of Pablo Neruda. She realized later that was perhaps the wrong choice of poets given the situation, but he was Neruda to her.
Fifteen years later she found the poem he had sent her and a letter from a friend that knew them both in a stack of papers in the back of her closet, it read:
Something that has brought me a small amount of peace is that I have been kissed in a way in which I have never been kissed before, and that belongs to me and me alone. What you had, your memories and perceptions of that, belong to you and you alone. You don't have to share them, give them away, or abandon them. They are yours forever. Someday they won't hurt, someday they will make you sigh and smile. Hold on to the them until that day. That's what happens to people like me and you that have too much love to give and not enough people to accept it.
She thinks that after fifteen years she has reached that point where she can look back on these memories of that time and sigh and smile as her friend suggested. Many times over fifteen years she asked herself if she made the right or wrong choice? She has cried over both relationships over those fifteen years, something that only a chosen few knew. At some point it seemed she had lost not only one man who once loved her but two.
But it is easier to hold on to the memories of the path not taken. Where there is resentment that unfolded on the path she took, the road left untaken remains sweet in her memory forever.
She has difficulty writing about the man of four years. He is complicated to her because he is now the man of fourteen years. He is also the man that failed to continue to love her. The man of the three month courtship is different. He stays in her memory in that beautiful form and so she can write about him.
The drink that lingered in her mouth, the taste
reminded her of her twenties.
It tasted like laughter and life.
It tasted like her best memories of warm easy nights,
the lips of someone who didn't care you were betrothed
or more correctly, who did but finally gave in anyway.
After all these years his memory still beckons words like Neruda's to her mind because he only exists now in her memory. She realizes that her friend was right and she is glad she held on to his words. She is glad she is still able to reach out to her friend, though the boy of the courtship is gone, and say you were right. For it seems what many might have called a mistake, comes to her in rainstorms and on the Fourth of July and in the found words of Arthur O'Shaughnessy and reminds her that it is something only she alone can hold forever.
Posted by Jennifer