(For the wedding of Erin & Andrew Harrell)
As I look out
upon this iron city
and watch it steam
and people come and go
in great glass towers
and in long trolleys
and winter coats
I think about a child that was me
and another that
a girl with summer-colored hair
who held my hand and walked with me to school
when I wore blue overalls
and I recall a day when
we were high up in the branches of a eucalyptus
making small stories
the lives of her dolls
and the rain came so sudden and so hard
and the thunder yelled back
and that was us.
And we learned how to be small together,
and we made lemonade in the summers,
and we spent our few dollars on movies,
sitting in the aisle on the steps
because there were no seats
We were so close we could not help but fight.
And with her voice she made me so angry
before I knew how words could fight for you
I kicked and hit and bit,
and never won.
Her voice was so strong, and I was so small,
and her voice has never changed.
I feel her strong voice when I think that I have found my own
and maybe it was she that taught me how,
the way she taught me how to tie my shoes.
We strode together down a hill where sour cherries fell from low branches,
to listen to loud music and dance and act the way that we thought it would be
to be older.
On a strange night, in a strange place
We sat against a moonlit wall and thought of home
and cried until it hurt.
And we got older
and we wasted time gloriously on idle things.
And childhood crept out the door and left us
awkward and stumbling, proteges of life
we had always had
it left us too, and distantly, we struggled.
She found herself in dance, I told my stories in my way
And separately, and over years, we kept the things that we had learned
when we were small
And so, across a country and through time, we grew, and we were us.
as I sit in marble and wood and glass and flower
and love and excitement murmur in old hallways with soft voices
I think about this time, this place, this me,
and a man with kind, dark eyes
and the warm smile of a brother, and a son,
and to the girl with summer hair I knew,
and woman that I wait for here today,
She will struggle
and when she struggles, he will comfort her.
He will fight
and her strong voice will join with his,
and they will win.
And time and distance will come and go,
as there was always us,
there will be them:
waiting at the end with an embrace
and whispered words for nobody else.
And as I stand before you now
the many Uses and the many Thems,
I think about a girl, a woman, sister,
and a friend, a man, a brother,
And how many, many stories
that they have yet to write.