Dear Lost Love of My Life
by Kathleen A. Lawrence
You had dark longish hair
and so did I. Your eyes were the color
of milk chocolate truffles.
Your skin like hot caramel sauce.
When you wrapped your arm around
my white shoulders we looked like
a hot fudge & caramel vanilla bean sundae.
You used to count my freckles as we lay around
naked listening to “Only the Good Die Young”
on my portable cassette player.
I giggled shyly and fibbed when I said
no one had ever done that before.
It only mattered that you were connecting
each dot and studying my body.
You were full of sweet kisses and
compliments which I thought
would never end. I always believed you’d
forever be tracing my skin with your fingertips
like I was some beautiful, rare relief map.
But summer burned some insecurities
into my head, and I worried.
You had to go West for a few months,
and I tried to convince myself
you were my brave explorer and
I was your modern-day pioneer woman.
I was going to be mature and wait
and keep myself busy getting a tan
and eating Garcia’s pizza and drinking draft beer.
But I couldn’t be more than I was,
which was very twenty-four
and nervous that you at thirty-one
would grow tired of me. How long could I
really be captivating to you? You, however,
would always be so fascinating you’d be
frozen in time as my proverbial one that got away.
I dumped you. But it was me that lost.
I spent the next thirty years living and loving
in my life but it was never the same
as it was during our hot summer of showers,
and wind chimes, and long-distance phone calls
when they still really meant something.
And you had to pay for them.
Thirty years passed without warning.
We both finished school, married our rebounds,
had our respective happy children,
and forever wondered. But when I lost
my marriage I tried to never think about you.
Ignorance wasn’t bliss; it made me
want to take cover . . . it was safe.
I tried to keep my “what ifs” locked away
in my memory box of ID bracelets,
Pink Floyd T-shirts, bandannas, and two-piece
bathing suits. My ’80s and you were over.
The ERA didn’t make it despite my efforts
and neither did we. Now, in my early 50s I’d lost
the time or need to lounge naked pondering life.
But when you started chasing me on Facebook,
that started to change. I got nervous again,
like the first time you stopped by my dorm room
and asked if I wanted to play frisbee. (Did I really
look like I wanted to play frisbee?) What a curious
boy-man you were. Always so upbeat, full of affection,
and eager to ply me with frozen margaritas and a dance.
When you friended me on Facebook I blushed.
When you posted me a meme I smiled.
I looked for you every time I logged on,
and swooned with every new message alert.
I was young again but with a freckled face now
filled with experience. I didn’t have my chicken legs
any more, as you used to call them, and my eyes were less blue.
But my heart was bigger now along with my hips.
And you seemed immediately enamored of both.
It was like 360 months hadn’t separated us. It was as if
109,507 days without your touch, brown eyes, and wide smile
made me grow up too, something I was always reluctant to do.
That seems to have made all the difference. I’m more
loving and kind. I finally have the patience to wait for what I need.
I lost you once. Many summer moons ago.
I found you twice, twice in August, 3 decades apart.
I’m no mathematician, and you teach English,
but I think those numbers look good.
So I’m gonna hold on tight this time, and let you
kiss me without warning. You can bring me cheese platters
and green seedless grapes with the stems trimmed.
You can write me beautiful notes for the next 30 years
and more. You can laugh at my jokes even though
I know you didn’t hear me. You can brush my still long hair
and wear your dragon shirts. Because we are we.
Wonderfully seasoned, particular, and experienced loving we.
Gratefully, I’ll never be so young and careless with you again.
I’ll never, ever risk losing you again.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Happy and hanging out at university in the early 80s in an embroidered peasant blouse.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My approach for this poem was to write something that really captured the importance of what I lost and remained missing over half of my adult life. My graduate school fling was a love I never forgot but lost for a long time. I hoped to convey the fun we had as young loves and the magic that seemed to reappear once we found each other again. It sounds so cliché and trite but since we typically aren’t the kind of people that fall into these patterns it actually has been refreshingly ironic that we did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathleen A. Lawrence’s poems appeared recently in Rattle’s Poets Respond, Eye to the Telescope, Silver Birch Press, haikuniverse, and New Verse News. A poem in Altered Reality Magazine was nominated for a 2017 Rhysling Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association. She was a Poet of the Week at Poetry Super Highway in January 2017.