working title
Since We Saw Each Other Last
random poems and meditations
to be published March 2005

This poem was inspired by
Kandice Cota's painting
Country French

Since We Saw Each Other Last
for Marie-Joelle

Your country rose up against its keepers
I look for you in news photos from Beirut
though you were usually behind camera
creating windows of understanding

At the Cedar House Café
I eat baba ghanoush between
billboard pictures of Mount Sannine
and Beirut glittering next to water

like Los Angeles and Peoria
we didn't visit the river much during
media studies at Bradley, those old
machines straining for new wisdom

your lessons in French future perfect
forgotten, I count une, deux, trois
until it blends with Spanish 
quatro, cinquo, seis

perhaps because my immigrant students
have caramel skin like yours
though none boast your shiny hair
they know the fear you grew up with

bombs from civil war interrupting
your school day like helicopters
terrify my class during yoga
no amount of deep breathing

convinces them the enemy is far away
like you, elusive without the ritual
of term papers and video labs
binding us together like honor cords

our storytelling dreams unwind
separately but once you lived out loud
and dared me to come along
shook parochial scales from my eyes

revealed the world beyond flat prairies
culture beneath constant cries of chaos
values above any national creed
passion around every creation

so opposite my stoic midwestern dedication
your laughter filled rooms and lured boys
who adored your vivacious stories
your fluency in many languages of life

everything flew into your open arms
including tragedy and bigotry
you carried your wardrobe
unfolded, ready to be searched

your huge black suitcases hide
the fashion sense you gleaned
as you cross three continents
so does our graduation picture

grins, hugs and black robes
hiding curvy figures underneath
scars on our hearts scratched
by men and misunderstandings

miles grow like walls between us
and memories dance like butterflies
until a painting called French Country
blooms in your room of my heart

we have never seen it together
I wonder what regime must fall
before we meet again to cry
"Bonjour, mon amie. Comment-allez?"


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