Poem by Elizabeth Fish
I remember the first time we met,
A frosty February morning at my best friend’s wedding.
I was a bridesmaid and he was the best man.
The night before, my dad jokingly told me,
“Weddings are a great place to meet people.”
At first sight, I thought he was so handsome.
He wore a polished black suit and striking sapphire tie.
His behavior was somewhat reserved,
He played the casual observer.
We stole glances from each other throughout the ceremony.
Later, at the reception, I danced with my father.
We talked and laughed together, and he told me,
“I think you have an admirer. Go on ahead.”
So my daddy passed me over
To the dark-skinned boy with emerald eyes.
He held me with an air of familiarity,
As if we had danced together for decades.
He looked at me as if I was the only girl in the room.
We were captivated by each other.
I remember when he let me into his world.
We lay together on a cloud of cobalt,
My head resting against his chest,
Listening to the rhythmic beating of his heart.
He told me he didn’t want to scare me off.
I assured him that could never happen.
So, he described the year he spent rotting in prison
For a crime committed by his brother.
No visits, no letters, nothing.
Abandoned by his family
When he needed them most. He alluded
To a complex past with his alcoholic mom
Who was fond of using the belt.
He mentioned his dangerous relatives in
The Mexican drug cartel, and his own
High school days selling blow and crystal.
None of this even fazed me.
I remember the first time he told me he loved me.
He greeted me that night with a dozen red roses and
A large bottle of Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay to drink upon our return.
We enjoyed Italian spaghetti at an outdoor table
Bathed in candlelight, classical music
Faintly reaching our eager ears.
He held me in his mesmerizing gaze and interlaced
His fingers with mine. Articulated
Those three words with such confidence.
I drank it all in, as though he was
The elixir of life, the key to my survival.
I remember the first time I felt afraid of him.
A summer night spent in a haze
Of ecstasy, friendship and love.
Bassnectar reverberated through our bones.
We danced together on a balcony
Amid a sea of fellow ravers.
I should have remembered
My best friend’s warning,
“He goes crazy if he mixes brown and clear liquor.”
I can still visualize his blank emotionless eyes
Connecting with mine. I can still feel
The strong grip of his relentless hands locked around my wrists
And the ferocity with which he yanked my hair.
I can still hear the anger in his voice
As he denied the faithless actions
He had committed before my own eyes.
I can still sense the fear of my friends
As they desperately tried to intervene,
Ignoring his vicious threats to stay out of it.
It took the arrival of flashing blue lights to get him off me.
That night will be forever burned into my brain.
I remember the day we said goodbye.
Sitting on my Jeep’s cracked leather seats,
A thick curtain drawn shut between us.
God forbid we show any hint of emotion on a day like this.
I believed closure might make things easier.
But he refused to look me in the eyes.
I handed him a letter I’d written the night before,
Tears streaming down my face as
I put pen to paper, knowing this was the end.
It was a farewell note, thanking him
For the moments we shared together
And wishing him the best in life.
I’ll never forget what he said.
After scanning its contents, he said,
“I expected something more heartfelt.”
I wish he could have been a man about it.
Edited by Kara Mercer