I’ve been at Brave Voice, the retreat Kelley Hunt and I lead in the Flint Hills each spring, and wanted to share a poem I wrote for a close, old friend. In honor of all our close, old friends as well as our close, new friends too!
You Are My People, and I Am Yours
It started long ago. It started just now.
Subtract a week, a year, a decade, and it makes no difference.
When we swam in the reservoir late morning, mid summer,
the chill of the water tripping our young voices into song.
When I failed the big test, when you lost the job, when we drove
all over Laramie hunting for your next home, when I floated in
your Topeka bathtub for hours to make the contractions bearable,
when we cried on the phone after your miscarriage.
Through our dying and dead fathers, the loves gone bad,
or so good that our broken hearts shattered to reform themselves,
through roadtrips blasting Tracy Chapman, through the worst fight
during a graupel blizzard in the tiny tent on the Continental Divide
before descending for the ultimate burrito, we were still each other’s.
When we walked along the river trail in our 50s or across the prairie
in our 20s, when you showed me the sunburst faces of the Orthodox icons
and I told you the meaning of the word “mensch,” when we cried together,
you from a porch in New Mexico, me from a porch in Colorado
while your mother’s breathing slowed to nothing, when you gave up
and dissolved your deepest wishes into prayers, when I gave birth again
while you snapped the shutter of your camera, when we puzzled apart
every tangle with our families of origin, when we filled your rose-tellised
deck with family to celebrate my son’s college graduation, and all
the times we picked wild strawberries in the rain before singing
“Night Fall on the Prairie,” you are my people, and I am yours.
Now why wouldn’t you believe that you’ve always lived in the house of love?