I’ve had these sheets from my junior college days. They’re poems from a poetry workshop I took one semester. I skimmed them back then, but didn’t think enough of them to let myself drown in the words. Some sense of awakening caused me to excavate them from whatever lonely bin I damned them to. I read this one particular poem and the piece just…combusted.
by Belle Waring
from Refuge ©1990
Tyler scuffs oak leaves to frisk
the scent walking through Malcolm X Park.
First date. The arms of our jackets
graze, sweet puff of romance. Then boom
I step on a syringe, the needle
quick as a pit viper hits my boot.
If this were a movie, I’d laugh, but I’ve got
works stuck into my tread. “Jesus,
don’t touch it,” says Tyler, and whips out
his hankie to yank it.
I’m fine,” but he started to fuss,
hailed a cab, told the hack to drive fast,
got me home, sat me down to examine
The Foot; a crap of red toe nail polish
left over from August, skin intact. Then
he held my foot in both hands.
Nothing Happened when they mean No Sex,
when the fact is every look counts. The sun
quivered in the wind outside whaling
the trees, and shimmered over the wall. When I met
Tyler’s eyes in that witchy light, I breathed
off the beat and choked, like I was fourteen.
I used to be depressed all the time,
and romance, by the way was not the cure.
I don’t mind winter because I know
what follows. There are laws.
I mean, wow. If I could compose a poem like that then I wouldn’t hesitate to call myself a writer. Aside from the technical skill displayed (she does that “show, don’t tell” thing so well here). But I was able to connect with this narrative. It’s like I was reading something different for the first time. It must have been a timing thing.
There are those moments in life when you look at a set of words and they’re the right ones at the right time. They’re so right, in fact, that they’re like the first words ever.
That last stanza is the segment that really sang to me. “There are laws.” Wow. I hope you’ve enjoyed Waring’s piece as much as I did.