At 19, a teacher who I'd kept in contact with since junior high, wrote me a poem. While it had been many years since we spoke, our friendship and fondness remained intact and developed as I grew. In fact, he never taught me in the classroom, but became someone who fostered my budding interest in English Literature and eventually, became a bit of a mentor and someone I have always admired for being so hard-working and successful in life since he was born.
I remember the moment when "Doc" (nicknamed for his Doctorate degree in Education) read his poem for me. Mixed feelings flooded my spirit: on one hand, I was full of immature embarrassment- seemingly unable to accept such a gesture of genuine love and appreciation; on the other hand, I was immensely grateful to have someone express, so beautifully, who I then was as a person when I was unable to see, myself, let alone to express as much in such an articulate manner. I wanted to snatch that paper right from his hands. It was folded, as if to say, "I was to be placed in an envelope and mailed," but it was pulled from a jacket pocket and unfolded. I extended my hand and Doc said, "I am going to read it to you, first."
As a woman, I would do the same, now: I would read a poem to the person for whom it was written. Then, I could ensure that the intonation and feeling of my thoughts and words would accurately be expressed. That's what Doc wanted to do, help me to feel the poem. But even at 19, I was still just a girl... unripe for honesty's harshness, especially, when the honesty was intent upon me feeling what someone else thought of me, no matter how beautiful the thought.
I blushed. He read, gazing deeply and intently into my bashful eyes at every pause in breath:
Thrust out of the black
with a silver glint... moving... radiating
Effortlessly moving away from the flock
and the noise
Distancing the Din
Seeing all... from afar
Still not forgetting the irreplaceable space...
She has left
In Awesome Wonder, she sets a forward heading
in search of deep meanings
seeking affirmation... yearning to be held... wanting to be held
Looking for affirmation of her existence
through paper thin fragments of wisdom... she soars
smelling like yellow rose petals
and a new bathed baby
wrapped by her slow, sad, beautiful smile
Heavenly softness... gentleness
Gliding by... with an angelic twinkle
as a day brightener
for those who take the time to see her... differently...
for perhaps, the first time... to...
Listen to Her...
To help her with the Natural Shocks
To Know Her... in the Belongings of her Beautiful Heart...
She pushes into Life's love
while flirting with the stars
arms herself full
I didn't know what to say... it was so-
Doc asked me to write a poem for him in return, but to be honest, I was not able to write anything remotely from my heart with such clarity and conciseness of thought and feeling. And not only did Doc accomplish this, but he also delved deeper inside of who I was than anyone had ever done, even I.
This has taught me, over the years, that it takes a certain maturity to graciously accept Love. Immaturity brought Insecurity and Insecurity foolishly embarrassed... Maturity brought Security of Self which, in turn, brought the ability to Love myself as I love others.
Reading this poem now, at 30-something, I go over the lines again and again. Sometimes, I read the same line ten times. I feel safe in sharing with the world because, frankly, the words are simply words if you're a stranger to me- you can only imagine what something like, "Distancing the Din" means only so much as to be either remotely vague or completely amiss. But for me, I can hang on each word, waiting for the next word to come so that I can understand the totality and depth of Doc's words. I can hang on each word, finally, being appreciative. In the child's metamorphosis, Fortune arrives in the form of a Deep Breath... stopping and letting go of Ego and Self- an exercise in replacing them with grounded Truth and Wisdom, Compassion, and Love.
I promised Doc a poem and I'm finally ready to sit and dig deeply, in poetic form, as to what I want to say about a man who has dedicated himself to bettering the lives of all he has ever touched. He tempers a hard-edged, grounded, Semper Fi Spirit with the greatest of Love and Wisdom. He is the rarest gem and I, truly, must be lucky to know him. I'm grateful you're here, even if we had never met and you never touched my life.
Thank you, Doc.
Photo Source: Susan Morrison