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After we spent a day together, my friend Joe challenged me to write my thoughts about it down in a poem. It turned out to be more like a prose poem, for the people that know the difference, and it also has elements of a letter. It is important to know that, at the time of this writing, Joe was 95% blind and used a white cane. Normally I would not feel the need to mention this, but parts would not make sense to the reader otherwise. The city we are wandering around is Portland, Oregon.


Submitted:Nov 18, 2012    Reads: 14    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


August 7, 2005

Dear Joe,

Now begins the scary process of writing something to you which wanted to be written last night, with the peace lullaby we created in the amphitheater still in my head. But I couldn't write last night from bed, so I had to believe that the thoughts would stay with me until now. Mostly they have, but I don't know if I will be quite brave enough to write them as strong as I felt them in that moment. So I'm not sure what will be written here when I finish. Be open for anything, I guess. It will be even scarier reading this aloud to you when the time comes, if that is what I am asked to do, but I will do it cheerfully.

These are just flowing thoughts, like the living liquid wind around me.

For some reason, after our last wandering, I didn't think you'd offer another one. I'd resigned myself to the fact that you were not going to. I'm not sure why.

Because real friendship is rare? Because in school I found out that some of the people who were my friends were getting paid or graded to be my friends, and they were called peer tutors? Probably that's part of it, but I also feel unworthy, like most people have way cooler friends than me that they could be hanging out with. Including you.

But you called, silencing the inner critic. Joy.

Spontaneity.
Pizza.
Music.

And an ordinary Joe who radiates extraordinary energy.

I love all these things, so off I flew, moving again.

But the world always moves at a different pace than my soul;
most of the time faster,
this time slow.

And I was late and afraid (I'm noticing that I'm often afraid)
that you would be frustrated with waiting.

But you have the most beautiful welcoming smile for me
and for a second, fear was held back
like a dog straining against a leash.

Then, we began a limping, leaning sort of walk toward food.

Three steps, stop.
Ten feet, stop.
Don't walk on red.
What happens if I die?
Gringo.

Fear lunging again. I wonder what people think when they see me moving. Do they pity? Or see a possible target?
Or say with their eyes that they are grateful they are not me? I don't know.
I am leaning too far to see their eyes, and I'm glad. For once,
their thoughts are not my responsibility. Were they ever?

Small burden lifted; slightly more alive.

Eventually, we stumble into Leaning People Pizza,
where the food is wonderful,
and the music is repetitive.
Same three chords and vocal style over and over.
I wonder if I'm the only one who notices.

Cherry Coke by the quart to wash down Tabasco sauce.
Pinball din on my side.

You're returning to our table and I suddenly wonder.

What do you think when you see me?
Do you think handsome?
(Can women even be called handsome, or must it be pretty?)

But I don't really care about above the skin.
What do you think when you see inside me?

(I quiet the sudden refrain of Elton John's "Daniel" that springs into my head.)

Really, what do you see?

A scared little girl?
A woman so alive it hurts?
A soul divided between wisdom and naivety,
deep sorrow and sometimes deeper joy?
A sharer of energy, keeper of fear,
with anger randomly bubbling?

Probably some Rubik's cube of all of these,
though I really want to know from you.

But fear wins again and keeps me from asking.
Why? I don't know for sure.
Maybe I'm afraid you'll come up with a trite, pat on the head answer like others do.
And that would be worse than not knowing your answer
because then you'd be just like them all,
and you are not.

I also want to know
what draws you to me,
what keeps you coming back.

But the watchdog is still inside me,
so instead I ask
if you are ready to find somewhere to play your guitar.

We wander aimlessly with aim.
You call a friend who is unable to join us.
Even though I want to meet people,
secretly I am glad that I do not have to share you
with anyone but your guitar.

We find the water. I am a spirit of water and air.

When I have both, I am lifted above barricades,
free and alive.
They move me when I can't move myself.
They whisper things which I am meant to share and interpret
with others who can hear them.
They will carry the music to others.

I want to sit alone with you, be still, listen and think.
But you are drawn toward some dogs,
and once again, I do not speak.

So we sit beside a dog named Misery,
because everyone knows she loves company.
Soon we are joined by another, ferociously barking.

His name is Asshole.

I bite back an urge to laugh hysterically.
Not at the name, but at its gift to me.

Here, biting my fingers, holding me back,
is my fear watchdog in the flesh.

Fear is an asshole.

I will keep this with all my other hidden gifts,
carry it forever, and no one will know why
I will giggle when I'm afraid sometimes from now on.

Except for you.

So we sit among the dogs and you play.
The owners kind of listen between trying to sell some buds.
I wish they would be quiet. I want to be held by the music.
They offer you some of what they're selling. You decline.


From the way they talk to you, I realize they think
that you cannot see at all. So, I toy with this, with them.
I move around behind you, reach down and touch your shoulder
to tell you I am there.
I watch them watching you,
but they are simple people with simple thoughts and reactions,
and I am bored of the game soon.

So I try to wrap myself in the music once again.

But soon, it's your turn to get restless, and so we move.
Walking toward a square named for pioneers, you hold on to my chair.
Dodging fear, I offer you my hand instead, and you take it

Slowly, we reach an amphitheater I have never noticed before.
You show me its echo, and we play with it.
Someone recognizes me from an encounter in transit.
I wish he would go away. I want to be held by the music.

Suddenly, violently, I realize it's not just the music.
I need you to hold me, hold me tight enough
to slow or still the flood of energy and thoughts
coursing through me, leaving my world spinning uncontrollably.
I need you to feel the skin right above my heart,
to stop it from beating so hard,
or at least tell me why it is.

I want you to feel some skin anywhere else on my body,
to know the amount of energy pulsing all through me,
so you can reassure me that it will stay in its vessel,
because it feels like I will burst any second,
and I am scared beyond words of what would happen
if I did break open and let it all out of me.

If that happened around you, would you catch some of it
and keep it safe for me?
How much of it could you even hold or carry?

These intense, urgent thoughts are not purely sexual,
but I realize that they could be related to that,
and that if I ask you to hold me,
it could very easily be misunderstood.

I don't want to scare you away, so I
don't ask you to put aside your guitar,
hiding in front of it instead, listening
as you sing about deep peace.

Rebelliously comes my urge to sing about shallow peace,
wonder if there is any such thing.
Is it easier to find than its counterpart?
Is it just as real?

I pluck tunelessly on your guitar strings.
You play beautiful chords
and suggest vocalizing to them without words.
I look up and away from you to keep you from seeing
whatever emotions are playing across my face;
before remembering that you probably can't see them anyway
with only starlight bathing them.

Now, I am still, listening to your tune.
When I am most scared, I join in,
like skydiving with a jet pack,
and I am flying free.
And it's beautiful.
It's a soul lullaby,
slightly calming the energy pulse in me.
I'm finally being held by the music and by its giver.
And I am safe. I am here.
I am.

Nothing else matters...

The square is closed
a man barks.
I am angry.
How dare he intrude?
The hot flash is gone.
Just doing his job.

We walk around the corner to wait for a train.
Some guy follows close and bumps into you purposely,
maybe looking for a steal, but he takes nothing,
maybe because I am there.

This is new.
I have never been anyone's protector before.
Only the protected.

You are angry and a little scared.
You share this fact with me,
and I am grateful that you trust me with your fear.
I will keep it quiet with me and never use it against you.

You glance around a lot as we wait.
I try to hold your arm reassuringly.

Suddenly, I want to hold all of you with both arms,
protect you from dangers unseen,
surround you in love and peace.
The urge is strong, too forceful,
so once again, I hold back.

When you reach down for the farewell hug,
I squeeze what I can reach as hard as I can,
daring even to put a tiny kiss on the back of your neck.

I say I love you, and it is true. We can discover what it means together.

Still, I wonder worryingly what will come from me daring to say it out loud.
Is it even mine to say? Will it hurt others?

I'm on the train now, with a huge knot hurting my stomach.
This is not complete. Something else needs saying.
I call you back to the door. You peer questioningly in my direction.
Something important must be said here, and all I can think of is

Soon, OK?

You look slightly puzzled, but you reassure me. Soon.
Probably hoping that I mean I want to see you soon, and not something weirder.
Don't worry, that's what I mean.
You smile and wave and disappear.
I can't see you in the dark.

The knot stays as I ride, wondering where we are going.
Is the time we share important, or at least meaningful, to you,
as it is to me? Do you think about it is much? Or at all?

Briefly, I think probably not. I'm sure you don't think of me unless I am in front of you,
like so many others that I know. And I feel angry, a little at you,
but mostly at me for making a complete fool of myself, putting myself out there so much.

Then, I shake it off, knowing I'm not being fair to you. We are adults with complicated lives, so try not to
read too much negativity into things. Besides, you are definitely not like others I know.

The knot is still in my stomach when I am in bed awake
wanting to write this, but not able to.
I call to tell you I am safe, but you are eating
something that will not chip your tooth.

I can't sleep, so I imagine you are beside my bed
playing deep peace. I sing out loud softly
until I am lightly dreaming.

You wake me up to say goodnight.
I smile at your voice, and after, the conjured you in the corner
softly plays again, and I sing myself to sleep with what I remember
of our amphitheater lullaby.

Now I am almost done with this,
almost empty of words for here, for now.
And, of course, I'm scared;
wondering what you will think of it,
if it is too intense, too much.

But it had to come out, needed to be written.
It took hours to get done, so I will show it to you.
I owe it, the work, at least that, it is the first thing I have written since January.
Thank you for giving me my writing freedom back.
Thank you for reading and listening to this, and for not throwing it away.

Thank you for being.

So this is it. This is my prose poem letter to you,
my observations and feelings on an evening we shared
with some pizza, a guitar and a fear watchdog
named Asshole.

Love Always,
Amber





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