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First Love ~

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  • First Love ~

    First Love


    I

    She seemed to bob
    on her sister's
    matted silver bike
    I watched for,
    not yet able to reach
    the high seat,
    working her way
    up car-free Penn Street,
    and I would make as if
    I hadn't seen her
    when she rode by.

    After she had passed
    I learned what emptiness meant
    and felt its keen brutal lance
    pierce deep
    into my thin breast.

    But worst of all
    was evenings in autumn
    when she pedalled home
    out across Main Street
    through the smoke of leaves
    burning at the curbsides,
    with the moon
    a soft round lantern
    hanging over her
    in the trees.

    II

    She was older now
    and we had gone our ways
    but she would come walking
    down Penn Street
    past my window
    every Friday evening
    at exactly ten minutes to eight
    carrying her violin case
    and I would stand there
    behind a thin curtain, waiting.

    Her rich black hair flowed long,
    at times a stray strand streaked
    down over her eye
    brushing back past a pendant earring.
    Once she came in a rainstorm
    her hair ravelled, dripping,
    her face wet and gleaming—
    ah, more beautiful she was then
    than she had ever been before.

    I would watch her walk
    upright, buoyant, her visage shining
    her very carriage betraying
    her being loved already
    by someone worthier than I
    who had inched his way
    into my banned paradise.

    Could it be just by chance, I asked,
    that she was thinking of me
    as she looked straight ahead
    walking past, smiling thoughtfully?
    What pain was caused to me
    by my inadequacy
    to muster charms I lacked
    and character enough
    to aspire to her high caste.

    How that loss has haunted me,
    that wound festered
    throughout the years.
    There has been no cure,
    no escaping, no way back
    to where my treasure was
    that ever after I have lacked.

    Often I would wake at night
    trembling, calling out her name.
    One rainy night I thought I saw her
    through the curtain
    standing at my window
    holding out her hand.

    Then I remembered the thread,
    tender and thin,
    we once said we had spun
    between us,
    each from our own end
    and fused where they met
    to bind us together
    for all time to come.

    Flinging back the curtain
    my eyes met hers
    and she smiled,
    like she did then.

    In her hand she held a thread
    offering it to me lovingly—
    and I, with hands extended
    with fingers straining
    stretched to take hold,
    yet each attempt
    kept falling short
    of that holy cord.

    III

    We were but children then
    in a Garden of Eden
    made just for us two,
    where nothing else mattered
    but you were loved by me
    and that I was loved by you.

    Now the longing for that,
    my long-lost love,
    has brought you back anew,
    so I have begun to love you
    with that pure innocent love
    our childrenhearts once knew.

    Source
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