Twenty years ago, I wrote an unsigned love poem to a girl I barely knew. I told Brianna, among other things, that life was a blaze of magnificence, that she made it even brighter, and that someday I would spend every day with the prettiest girl in the world.
When she read the poem she got goose bumps, smiled from ear to ear, and daydreamed about the gentleman behind the poetic prose. She showed it to her sister who sighed and said, “How romantic! I wish someone would write me a poem like that.” Then she showed it to her parents. Her mom smirked, but her dad frowned and said, “Don’t waste your time on a foolish boy hiding behind a silly poem.” Finally, she let her new boyfriend read it. In a grim voice he said, “Let me know when you find out who wrote it, because I’d like to give him a piece of my mind!”
Despite reactions ranging from enthusiasm to aggravation, she kept the poem and still has it in her possession today, two decades later. Her younger brother, Jose, recently found it neatly folded and tucked between two pages of an old photo album she keeps in her den.
I know all of this because Jose told me. He and I met in school twenty years ago and we have been best friends ever since. He was, frankly, the reason I wrote the poem.
A Second Glance
“Your sister is pretty,” I told Jose during my first visit to his home.
“Forget about it,” he said. “Brianna has buff guys fighting for her affection every day. You couldn’t hold her attention long enough to get a second glance.”
“I could if I wrote her a poem,” I replied.
“She has guys writing her romantic crap all the time,” he said. “She’ll just toss it out with all the other failed attempts.”
“Not mine,” I insisted.
“You’re crazy,” he chuckled. “Go ahead and try. Make me laugh!”
I wrote the poem that evening and mailed it anonymously the next morning.
I Thought I Was Special
The poem I wrote Brianna wasn’t genuine, at least not in my mind. I wrote it because Jose doubted me. Sure, I thought Brianna was pretty, but I didn’t want to settle down with her. At the time, I didn’t even know her. And as it turns out, she and I have almost nothing in common.
The last genuine love poem I wrote went to a girl I met a month before I met Brianna. She was on the varsity soccer team, and her beauty was majestic. I wrote Sara a poem and slipped it into her locker the same afternoon. I confessed my desire to be a soccer ball, and risk being kicked around, if it was the only way I could catch her attention. She caught up with me the next morning and told me I didn’t need to transform into a soccer ball to catch her attention. I asked her out on a date a few minutes later.
Our first date went well. But the next afternoon Sara spoke to a few of her teammates, two of which I had previously dated. She was appalled when she found out that I had written Jackie a poem about innocent kisses blown her way in the breeze, and Carol a poem about the lucky sunshine that glistens off her skin. Needless to say, a second date was not in our future.
“Stupid me! When I read the poem you wrote me, I actually believed you were being sincere! I thought I was special,” Sara screamed!
“I was… and you are,” I mumbled as she stomped away.
But Sara had a point. Although I had never summoned the desire to be a soccer ball in any of my previous poems, I did use similar analogies that carried the same fundamental message of flirtatious affection.
I wasn’t trying to hurt her. I thought she was gorgeous. I thought she carried herself with amazing grace. I wanted to be around her. I wanted to be hers. She was the most perfect girl in the entire world… and I felt this way a hundred times before.
No Two Words Would Rhyme
Roughly six months after I met Brianna, I met Angel. I realized shortly thereafter that she moved me in a way the others had not. I couldn’t consciously pinpoint it, but I knew our relationship felt special. Even after the initial excitement fatigued, she kept me captivated in awe. I was wide awake in the second inning for the first time in my life.
Angel and I have been together for nineteen years now—we’ve been through a lot together—and I appreciate her more and more with each passing day. Yet despite my love for her, she’s never received a love poem.
It’s not that I haven’t tried. I tried, once, to write her a poem about the depth and beauty of her hazel-green eyes. I stumbled over my words. Another time I tried to write her a poem about the mornings I wake up early just to watch her sleep. I failed again. And just last month I tried to write her a poem entitled “Amidst an Angel.” But no two words would rhyme.
Nineteen years and not a single love poem written. Of course, Angel knows I love to write, so she has occasionally questioned my motives for never writing her a romantic piece.
Yesterday evening I found myself trying again. I tried to poetically recreate the story of our first encounter. I wanted to make it cute. I wanted to make her smile. I wanted to make her cry. I wanted to typify our tale in exquisite prose. Nothing came.
The Most Profound Affirmation
I fell asleep around midnight last night thinking about my predicament. Have I completely lost my touch? Has someone cast an evil spell on me? Or is there a more profound, philosophical explanation?
I dreamt I was sitting at round table in a dimly lit room. There was a man sitting across the table from me. He looked a lot like me, only his hair was silver and his skin was worn.
“I’m here to answer your question,” he said.
“What question?” I asked.
“The one you’ve been asking yourself for almost two decades,” he replied.
“What’s wrong with me?” I huffed. “Why can’t I write Angel a love poem?”
“Perhaps you can’t write her a love poem because you realize, subconsciously, that leaving it unwritten is the most profound affirmation of love you can make. Because you truly do love her, and true love cannot be translated into words. Because words alone could never do her any justice.”
I nodded in agreement.
He went on, “The sad truth, of course, is that this affirmation of true love will always remain unnoticed. Because there is no visible output to notice—no poem to read.”
My eyes popped open.
Inspired to Write
It was 4:30 AM, but I was wide awake and inspired to write about the epiphany I had in my dreams. I leaned over, kissed Angel on the forehead, and rolled out of bed. I powered on my laptop and opened the word processor I use for blogging. After gazing at the blank white screen for several minutes, I placed my fingers on the keyboard and titled the page:
. . .
Afterthoughts & Questions
Why did I just share that story with you?
Because doing so helps remind me.
And, I know you need a reminder sometimes too.
Sometimes we all need to be reminded of the beauty and sweetness of truly loving someone without the forced glitz, glam, and airbrushing of the Instagraming world we live in. Because it’s so easy to forget. It’s so easy to see the fairy-tale highlight reel of staged romance that scrolls across our screens, and feel inadequate by comparison.
We need to remind ourselves that loving someone—truly and profoundly loving them—isn’t about crafting the perfect love poem, photographing the perfect internet kiss, or showing off in any way; it’s about showing up every day behind closed doors to quietly respect and support someone who means the world to us.
Do you agree?
Do you feel like your love is hard to accurately express?
Do you have your own “unwritten love poem” pulsing through your heart and mind?
I know this blog post is a little different, but I’d love to know what you think.
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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