Since we’re not young, weeks have to do time
for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp
in time tells me we’re not young.
Did I ever walk the morning streets at twenty,
my limbs streaming with a purer joy?
Did I lean from any window over the city
listening for the future
as I listened here with nerves tuned for your ring?
And you, you move toward me with the same tempo.
Your eyes are everlasting, the green spark
of the blue-eyed grass of early summer,
the green-blue wild cress washed by the spring.
At twenty, yes: we thought we’d live forever.
At forty-five, I want to know even our limits.
I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow,
and somehow, each of us will help the other live,
and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.
–Adrienne Rich, from 21 Love Poems
It‘s been almost a year since the Legend and I left each other, and we were right to do so. We were doing each other no favors and much harm. But this poem fell out of a notebook today, and it made me cry in the middle of a busy morning.
We passed it back and forth the first few months we were together, and it made him so happy that it made me happy too. People who didn’t know him well might have been surprised by his appreciation–his official shtick was all broad strokes. Also some might be surprised now to learn he wasn’t cis-male.
That’s not what surprised me, though.
What surprised me was that, like Adrienne Rich and her love, we were in our mid-40s when we found each other, and thus were lucky enough to recognize our connection as a gift. Finding a friend of your heart at any age is a gift, but when you’re not young it’s downright precious. By then you’re distilled to shining terrible essences: beauty rather than prettiness, joy rather than fun. Truth rather than tall tales.
Listen: Just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it doesn’t move your soul forward. And just because you leave doesn’t mean love does too. Love never leaves. It just changes form.