Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Beautiful Reminder (Elly's Poem)

It's not every day that someone writes an intensely moving poem for you.

Elly Bookman and I met at Colby during my sophomore year. I was in the Colbyettes (Colby's oldest all-female a capella group) for a year at that point . I first met Elly during try-outs that fall. She serenaded the group with her gorgeous voice and my favorite Coldplay song...the girl knows how to get to me). The decision to accept her into the group was unanimous and, from then on, I've been lucky enough to call Elly my friend.

Elly and I also share an intense love for poetry and often trade our work. It's wonderful to have a friend who appreciated this side of me and it's been exciting to watch her passion grow over the years. Elly's writing was consistently recognized by Colby professors as outstanding and, when she graduated college, she applied for her Masters in Fine Arts. She was immediately accepted into a highly selective poetry program at UNC Greensboro where she is today, immersing herself in the art form she loves. Recently, Elly was also the winner of the first annual Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize for her phenomenal poem, Another Thing I'd Rather Not Know about Myself . The poem was recently published on the back cover of  The American Poetry Review - one of world's premiere literary journals ! !  I couldn't be prouder of my talented friend and - mark my words- I know she'll be a famous writer one day.

On one particular night this past September, my pain was worse than ever and sadness hit me pretty hard. I was sitting in my studio apartment alone on a Friday night, not really wanting to socialize. Night was falling and I began feeling worse and worse. All of a sudden a message popped up from Elly (who I was admittedly quite out of touch with at that point). It was entitled "A Get Well Present For You!" Curious, I pulled my computer closer and opened her letter:

Hola Maya,

I may be short on funds (with which to send a more traditional gift), but I wrote this poem last week in a very exciting BURST! of inspiration. I hope it lets you know I'm thinking of you, but also that I know you'll come through, as always, and that I miss you and love you a lot, a lot, a lot! 

To Friends Grievous and Far

For Maya

Chantelle ran barefoot laps around
a schoolhouse on the Big Island of Hawaii
to build up her lava feet. Katie waded
into a pond in Washington 
when she was two, learned there 
how not to drown. Today I consented 
my life will always be worse
than the year I spent in Oregon 
in a house above the town 
with those girls. Even if 
in some year ahead I can walk
across another highway and arrive
at a river, I’ll never have that much good
again in my heart. I’ll live inside
this callous from now on. 

So it is, then, that you and I 
will decorate the living rooms 
of so many separate pains: me alone
with my awareness of how it was, you alone
with your ache for how it always will be. 

But also we won’t ever be short 
of  places we can make into homes
for us to share. There won’t have to be 
a river, there won’t have to be a view and
there won’t even have to be blackberries
growing on bushes at the bottom
of the drive. There will only have to be 
storms that have raged enough
to not come again, magma that’s hardened 
into black dance floors as far
as the eye can see. We’ll have walked it
already, made our matching soles
numb to the length of ground between us:
it will feel like water. It will feel like
the warm blue waves of all we miss and fear 
churning under us, forgotten.

Only halfway through this piece, I burst into tears. When I told Elly how much I needed that specific poem at that specific moment, we agreed there was some larger force that  driving its creation. She said, as she was preparing for night out with her friends, these words came to her suddenly and she felt she had to stay in to write.  Somehow she knew I needed those words. It was the push I needed that night - a beautiful reminder that there would be better and stronger days ahead; a beautiful reminder of friendship.



  1. Juliana GomensoroNovember 25, 2010

    Intense and so beautiful! Friendship is one of the most valuable things in life! I founded your blog at the facebook profile of AS Association, and have been reading since. I'm 32 and been diagnosed since 2008. All I can say is that I found a lot of comfort in many of your writtings. lots of love from Brazil,

  2. Thanks so much for writing Juliana, and all the from Brazil! I was so thrilled to read your e-mail today and to know my blog could help you in even some small way. I'll write back as soon as I can. I'm so glad we've connected and I do hope you'll keep reading. Feel well <3

  3. I love that you both felt that the poem was driven by a greater force. So beautiful and amazing. I love it when things happen unexpectedly when you need it most.

    So wonderful to catch up on your latest posts. You have a beautiful spirit, Maya and I'm so glad to see you refuse to be knocked down by the medication setbacks and are caring for your emotional well being as well as your physical one. Sending a Texas sized hug, Kelli

  4. Kelli: Thank you so much for keeping up with my writing - your words and understanding mean so much to me. It makes happy to know that you appreciate Elly's poem like I do; she's a great talent, huh? I hope you're feeling well and can feel my New York sized hug right back xoxo

  5. that poem was gorgeous.