To the Friend Who Isn’t Reading This

Which person do you need
me to be? The man standing
solid on a sinking pier,
toes in lake, eyes
scanning the surging storm
(even the elms are hellbent
to run the other way).
We are all trees
tethered to this moment
and to the next and the next.

Or do you need the woman
who escaped the storm
by diving through it? Lakes
always mimic what they see.
She is the reason the pier
is flagging to hold us up,
to keep us dry, to allow us
to walk on opalescent water
like Jesus bugs or distrust or
skiers framed in life jackets.

Decide before the fog gathers
between our fingers.

Written for YeahWrite’s Fiction|Poetry challenge. Click the badge to read other stories and poems. Early draft. Constructive criticism welcome.

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4 Replies to “To the Friend Who Isn’t Reading This”

  1. Saw this on Wednesday and have been thinking of it since. The title and first line felt…pointed. For that reason, maybe, to me the poem felt natural and conversational. The tension between these two extremes and what they mean is what sinks in and changes the more I’ve read and thought over them.

    I love the imagery of this: “even the elms are hellbent
    to run the other way.” And this: “before the fog gathers
    between our fingers.” And I noticed the firm command in the narrator’s voice in that last line.

    As always, you fit so much into so few words.

    xoxo

  2. I love the image of a woman who escapes a storm by driving through it. And I love the contrast with a man who’s standing solid on a sinking pier. I think that what’s throwing me is the “Which person do you need me to be?” That line is great, but it seems like the poem moves into examples of two actual people. Maybe it’s the man/woman thing? That makes it feel like the friend needs to choose between people instead of sides of a single person. But there’s a lovely tension to this. I keep reading it over and over and finding more to love.

  3. I loved the feeling of sadness this instantly brought.

    “but we are all trees
    tethered to this moment
    and to the next and the next.”
    This was gorgeous. What a real feeling.

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