Poetry Unearthed: Treasures There for the Digging


It’s amazing what one can find rooting around in your house.

During a little spring cleaning, I found this poem I’d written a long time ago, between pages 136-137 in this Elvis Costello song book.

This book belongs to my now-husband. We met each other in 1983, at a time when Elvis Costello was all the rage. Such sassy lyrics and danceable rhythms! (I give it a 95…) He wasn’t punk, he wasn’t rock, he wasn’t country or blues, but a strangely pleasing British combination of everything. My husband plays the piano and I was learning at the time. These were difficult songs for a beginning pianist.

I’d written more than a few poems for my husband during the courtship period. I must have written this poem during then, and dropped it into the book, probably hoping he’d fall upon it by chance. (That’s what romantics do; hope for a random slice of kismet to strike the object of their affection just so – preferably during some lonesome dark and stormy night – and thus jump start the yearning.)

(It’s so funny that I titled the poem “Ironies” – because I think of Elvis Costello as being entirely ironic.)

I’d sent my husband the other poems I’d written to him. We dated long distance for two and a half years (Twin Cities – Detroit), before the Internet and cell phones. My long distance bill used to kill me, so I wrote letters nearly every day. But I don’t remember writing this one. I must have slipped it into the songbook soon after finishing it and forgotten all about it.

If a diamond is trapped inside the earth and never sees the light of day is it still a diamond?

I think so.

And now, with a little editing brought to you by 28 years of fermentation, I bring you (parts of):



Dreams were once so easy, always crystal light,

rich and verdant like springtime glens,

purer than April snow melt.

But that was such a long, long time ago,

so long that you forgot when.

Life was a simple game when you were but a child

and dreams will lose their luster

as you struggle all the while.

Child of promise, child so bright;

they think you don’t need help.

They leave you to yourself.

Oh, how they want you to grow straight and tall.

Sometimes it’s a wonder to grow at all.

On a trip to see your sister

you marveled at the comfortable little house,

overgrown with plants, the babes all around, the simple style.

You long to own that easy smile.

But easy doesn’t come to you the way it comes to everyone else.

You choose to sleep alone at night

though men profess to love you some,

your heart is frozen in time and space

you’re holding out for that special one.

He’s beautiful and funny,

sensitive and wise,

but can he love that stranger inside you,

that darker spirit that lies within?

What will they say when it’s over and done

before your ashes meet a Rockies’ sun?

Will the eulogy be

“The woman was a saint.”

“She was a martyr too.”

For she waited her love

for someone like you.

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