I imagine you on a May morning
breezing into his study, breathless
from your sprint across the fields.
The great man of letters—your father’s friend,
your friend—neither sighs nor hesitates
as he sets his quill pen on its stand,
pushes back his rocker from the writing table.
Abandoning his Remarkable Men,
his craggy features soften into a field of wildflowers–
smile bright and humble as homely coltsfoot,
eyes fond as the forget-me-nots you tie
in bundles, leave beside his door.
He never mentions these bouquets.
That would wilt the tender green between you.
Rather, he escorts you round his library,
introducing you to his dear friends–
Shakespeare, Carlyle, Wordsworth–
guiding you to Goethe’s Correspondence
with a Child, penned by a woman.
I loved him, too, at fifteen when I met him
on the page—fell for his elegance
of word and syntax, his way of gently
courting my understanding. I dreamed
of his seeing some spark of genius in me
invisible to boys I slow-danced with
at sock hops, their scratchy cheeks smelling
of sweat and Clearasil, their sloppy kisses
recorded in small poems in my journal.
Now I watch you leave his study,
the borrowed correspondence in your hand.
You pause to press the book’s skin to your face,
then read your way home to your own
white desk, your pen, your pages.
For more of Judith’s work: https://cavankerrypress.org/product/practicing-the-world/