On Being New
(Jenna Himber song)
by Lee Parpart
For years after I left town, your name roped along vines to reach me, its sturdy quatrain slinking back to our grade-eight selves.
Who are we now if not those same twiggy teens, camped out in your kitchen on a Friday night, diluting your father’s brandy like clumsy thieves?
Bits of our union still burn through the decades. A dance floor in your living room, no boys allowed. Twenty painted toes lost and twisting in deep red shag.
At school, we smuggled cursive confessions across aisles and through locker slats.
Each folded message a looseleaf prayer to permanence.
With so many hearts atop our i’s you could not have guessed how quickly I would will myself to forget.
Our blood pact drying to dust before my plane left Logan.
Promises to write trailing like vapour behind a girl who had already been called to newness once too often.
All those goodbyes a faint scatter of cirrus crystals from one who had learned to leave.
PHOTO: The author in Andover, Massachusetts, shortly before moving to Durango, Colorado (1980).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I moved 15 times before graduating from high school, and at some point, I became a little too good at saying goodbye to the people I met along the way. I’m working on it, and really needed to write this poem about my dear friend Jenna, who I treated so abominably after moving from Andover, Massachusetts, to Durango, Colorado, for Grade 9.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart is a Toronto writer and media studies researcher who returned to poetry and prose in 2015. Her poems have appeared on Silver Birch Press and her prize-winning short story “Piano-Player’s Reach” will be published soon on openbooktoronto.com. She won an emerging writer award in 2016 as part of a “What’s Your Story?” contest organized by Open Book: Toronto and the Ontario Book Publishers Organization.