1978, Love Poem To Janet

Inhaling fertile smoke

Of remembrance

(How many cigarettes a day did we smoke then, my love?)

White painted clapboard

New Hampshire house

Up the stairs

I walked


She stole

Through the night

Without fright

For her children

Christmas lights

Off the common trees

Of that small town,

I laughed at her cunning

Her daughters

And her

Knowing he would be gone

No longer still in the “mental hospital”

She thrashed

At the constraints

On the wrist of her soul


My warmth

She sobbed

Me across the room

She shook

Cried out

Us never touching

The grief of her past

And I sat, unspeaking, so long ago now,


Its many faces.


I cannot honestly say I did not love her stories,

My beautiful friend The Outlaw, when

Drunk she drove

Police cars on the chase

Through red lights of a faraway city


I took each step with her even though

We never held each other through the night.


And then

That day

She didn’t come back

I gathered her most precious things

It was the first gathering of many to come,


Papers from her desk,

And waited

Only for her.

In the cold and bitter winds of winter,

She came

Into my three-roomed world


We slept together not touching through that night

When we woke she told me I was beautiful, and


As she was leaving

In that damn rabbit-furred coat I will never forget,

Wobbling on heels too high for hitchhiking,

I mean really leaving

Never to be seen again,

We embraced.


© Susan Lynn Gesmer

1978, Love Poem To Janet

February 1982

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