2 Poems–Gretchen Johnson

Imagined Meeting

In a distant dream somewhere I find you,
and we smile knowingly at each other
with eyes that are no longer clouded over
by past mistakes or past pleasures lost,
and I get to hear your voice again,
and even though I didn’t remember every detail
I realize that the sounds had settled deep
in my memory and were even imprinted
on my own lips and tongue,

and even though your hands are more worn by life
I can still see them scribbling thoughts on napkins
years ago in rooms that no longer exist,
and you see a beautiful diamond on my hand
even though it hasn’t been taken out of a box
for thirty years since our last day,

and even though your hair no longer has its sunset hue,
the color of harvest time as dusk settles over fields,
I can still find the color of years lost
somewhere under the white strands,
like a landscape covered by snow
that still holds the memory of life,

and even though my own locks are sheared short,
you still see a time when they hung loose around my face
and cascaded down a back of perfectly pale skin,
and even though we are fully clothed
I still know where every mole lies on your body,
and you remember the birthmark on the back of my thigh,

and in this distant dream we speak of weather,
old friends, careers, travels, and children,
but beneath the words we are screaming
all the things we never said
as the years took us away from who we were
the last time we stood together.

Only a Few

There are few people in life who ever really know you,
who have stood outside with you in the darkest hours
and just listened to the waves of your labored breathing,
who have waited patiently on mornings
when you were slow to wake and stayed in the room
to watch your sleeping expression.

There are few people who understand what it felt like
to be you on the day the world fell in on itself,
who stayed on the phone until morning
because you were too afraid of dreaming in darkness.

There are few people who find you beautiful on lazy afternoons
when you lounge in sweatpants and loose braids,
few people who love you so much they pray hard
for the clock to move slowly as midnight turns into one
and one turns into sunrise.

There are few people who have memorized
every freckle, birthmark, and scar
and delight in the pleasure of your imperfections,
and only a few people have seen your tears
as you lost the image of who you were supposed to be;
only a few can see the girl you search for
as you stare hard into dusty mirrors,
and only a few know the meaning behind every letter of your name,

and these people remember a time when you were happy,
when you believed that singing could save you and love was flawless,
a time that stands vacant in the deep valleys of memory
and waits patiently for your return.

GRETCHEN JOHNSON currently lives in Beaumont, Texas, and works as an English Instructor at Lamar University.  Her first book, The Joy of Deception and Other Stories, is forthcoming from Lamar University Press.  She completed her undergraduate degree at Southwest Minnesota State University and her MFA at Texas State University. In her free time she enjoys bowling, playing tennis, singing, and traveling.

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