It was the summer of 1972. At the time I lived with my parents on a modest 110-acre dairy farm. Imagine a white clapboard farmhouse with a front porch, a weathered gray barn, pastures abuzz with grasshoppers, and black-and-white cows slurping water out of a small, shallow pond.
I tottered on the brink of adolescence, bookish and lonely. Our closest neighbors lived a mile away. My best friend lived on the other side of town. And then, city people “from away” purchased an abandoned house just up the road—maybe a quarter mile or so. They created a summer retreat and returned year after year.
I don’t know about you, but over the years a person here and a person there have unexpectedly touched my life. Each time I’d never ever be the same again. One of the city people, a girl my age, became the first of them.
She had traveled to Boston and Chicago, took ballet lessons, ate yogurt—-whatever that was-—and gasp! wore a bra. These observations elevated her to a dizzying height of sophistication I couldn’t match. My greatest accomplishment to date had entailed riding my bicycle four miles to the local mom-and-pop store for potato chips and root beer.
I offer you a poem in tribute to memories of those who grace our lives with magic.
Lost to Inexperience
Once, I watched you twist your long hair into
a tight bun against the soft nape of your neck,
and shut my eyes while you fastened it with
a shiny hair clip.
I wanted to kiss you when you turned around
and smiled at me, but the moment passed
into other moments and disappeared into the air
like a wisp of smoke.
Another time, you baked sweet cinnamon bread,
served me warm chunks slathered with honey butter,
and brushed crumbs from my lips.
My fingers brushed against your hand, and you
slipped away, pirouetting in perfect form across
the wooden floor until you paused, and bowed
to my inexperience.
My favorite photograph shows our faces in shadow,
your arm draped across my shoulders.
I kept the picture on my dresser until it faded,
and I couldn’t see our faces any longer.
After graduation you attended Julliard.
I worked in an office filing people’s taxes.
When I called you one rainy Saturday,
Oh, is all you said.
Muriel Fish lives on Fishbone Farm with her husband and four hens. When she’s not collecting eggs, she teaches public speaking and writing courses at Thomas College. Currently, she’s working on a novel and seeking publication of her memoir, Sing Me a Lullaby.