Because Cell Phones Did Not Exist
by Deirdre Garr Johns

We were strangers at sixteen
when you brought a single rose
to my house.

Only these details remain:

the turning of gravel;

the knocking on the back porch door,
and me, s l o w – w a l k i n g;

my shyness containing my eagerness;

the metal latch unlocking;

the cool air unable to calm
the flush of my face.

Surprises were captured in the moment,
left to be protected by the mind
and later, faded or replaced.

There were no retakes or posing.
And yet, my memory has not failed me.

Instead, it has isolated
a simple gesture:
a boy and a girl–
the beginning of something.

No amount of retakes
could make a more vivid image,
and I am satisfied with my mind’s
own remembering.

Photo by Bronwyn8. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spend a lot of time with my poems. To quote Billy Collins, I “walk inside the poem’s room/and feel the walls for a light switch.” My poems experience multiple revisions until their meaning becomes clear to me. I may want to evoke some particular meaning or message, but the more time I spend with– and away from–a poem, the more I come to realize the meaning. So my process is fairly long from beginning to end, and I think this is what I enjoy the most about writing poetry–the process of exploration and self-realization. This poem is an early poem in a collection I have compiled about the stages of love–young, mature, lost, and self. It is my earliest memory of young love.


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deirdre Garr Johns resides in South Carolina with her family. Nature is an inspiration, and poetry is a first love. Much of her work is inspired by memories of people and places. Her poetry has appeared in Sylvia magazine (“The turning of the air is slight”) and South Carolina Bards Poetry Anthology (“Elders of the Earth”). Her nonfiction work has been published by the Surfside Chapter of the South Carolina Writers Association (“The Many Lives to Live”) and Sasee Magazine (“The Perfect Age” [August 2021] and “The Great Disconnect” [September 2022]). Her poem “A park in Gloucester City” appeared in Eunoia Magazine.  Her website is