Thursday, March 7, 2013

By the time the paint dried

As a first year graduate student, I wrote a poem about dust in 1991.

Among the first poetry I wrote to any girl I liked; I can still recall this specific poem word for word:

I've never known
such solace
as it is within your trust--

You and I

Written on yellow legal pad paper in blue pen, I slipped it into her palm--double folded--in a crowded street on Temple University's campus.  We knew each other, but not well. I disappeared into the crowd.

You know when you are young, aren't living home and high school is long over and your life is still taking shape but the possibilities are wide open and unravelled every day for you? Well, this girl became one of my possibilities.

I saw her...we talked...we talked some more...we had a loose circle of similar we talked some more...and then I quietly changed my graduate school schedule just so I could be in her Linguistics class--which ended up becoming the most difficult course I ever took.

And then I started leaving her poems; never mentioning them or signing them.

I had been leaving her poems on and off for several weeks.

I taped one to the hallway floor outside of one of her classes so that she would see it when she left. She did.

I slipped one inside our student newspaper and placed it back where it was--folded beneath her door.

I can't remember any of those poems. Just the dust poem. Because I slipped it into her hand and she saw me for a flash...and saw the yellow paper flash in her palm...and didn't know whether to look back at me, call to me, or open the paper.

In the swirl of a girl trying to decide--she was left with only one option.

Looking back at it now, I was twenty-three years old and trying wicked hard to get a specific girl to notice me. I couldn't play the guitar or sing. I wasn't very good at sports. I could draw and I could paint--and I was too young to know about the line, "Would you like to come up to my apartment to see my sketches?"

Maybe that is why I remember that specific poem. It was the first time something worked. It was the dust poem that literally got me invited to her apartment--it got me in the door. And writing that girl poems turned into my painting vines, flowers, and fruits on her bluejeans in her apartment--even though she had a boyfriend at the time.

By the time the paint dried on the first pair of jeans, the boyfriend was an ex.

Poetry got me in the door. Painting and drawing kept me there.


  1. Beautiful...just beautiful!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. awesome - this needs to be a movie.

  3. Oh wow...this is so romantic! I want to know more! Did you end up with her??