poetry series by Melanie Leong
portrait by Lisa De Witte
This series is a tribute to the love friends have given us over the years. It’s about the feelings that arise when you’re in a close relationship with someone–romantic or platonic. It’s bliss and contentment but it’s also showing up when you don’t always want to and the natural questioning of if your efforts are worth it when relationships change. The series explores the highs but also gruesome lows that can unfold with knowing someone so well. Love poems are usually reserved for romance, but I want to explore the other sides of love. So here’s a little love for my friends.
you are wild green grass on a hot summer’s day. beads of welcomed sweat on tinted, not-yet-sunburnt skin. you are a cold chocolate milkshake and the feeling of pebbles rolling around in the palm of my hand as i idly stare at the clouds in the sky. you are an old yet familiar book i’ll never tire of reading. a piece of the cosmos they forgot to put in the sky. the tallest mountains with cruel, icy windstorms, and meadows full of soft soil and wildflowers you hate. that jean jacket with the implicit tinge of dull yet invigorating sounds.
(cover my eyes.)
you are a piece of me i will never fully own and will surely never forget.
there’s something mystical about you. something these lines won’t convey, but i’ll try anyway.
frolic through the tress and sing songs of sweet honey. go to each end of the earth and be fully present in each moment. love deeply, without regard to the passing of time. be wild and free.
you encompass so much more than what this earth can ever hold.
thank you for letting me bear witness to these testimonies the cruel world will never fully understand.
and so it goes.
on and on,
and on and on.
and then there’s the dip, the quiet whisper of doubt that settles into the valley. nothing much at all,
until nothing becomes something with a harsher sound.
two peas in a pod, until i outgrew it. and you never did.
what happens then?
we keep going and learning and being friends.
only if it’s worth it. (is it worth it?)
maybe in the end. (what end?)
but what about now?
what about loving tomorrow, and even today? what about having to love when you think about how you didn’t (don’t) have to?
it’ll be worth it in the end. (but will it?)
is it worth the gruel of loving? the not-so-glamorous loving that love really is? or is this the point when this isn’t loving anymore and it’s just hating? when does love become hate and hate become love? two powerful emotions, too powerful for each other. where’s the indifference? that’d be much easier.
it’ll be worth it in the end. (?)
you are the energy i surely lost.
the leach of my existence.
nothing as tiring as you.
yet you invigorate my tired bones. so pure, in an innocent way. you live in a world of naïve bliss. good enough for you, but not enough (never enough) for me.
i guess it was fun and grand, like a dream, honestly.
but this, this is reality.
i don’t know and i know i never will and i know we’ll never talk about it.
close enough to know but far enough to pretend everything’s okay. it’s an empty room and we’re talking about
we’re strangers now.
i knew you but you never really knew me.
i was the golden object of your unbound affection, wrapped in glitter and sealed with a kiss.
nothing can come out of something so one-sided as this.
(and nothing did.)
what was this anyway?
i just wanted to taste the fruit they all talk about.
and you wanted more? how did i know that?
(i did know that.)
from bright green buds to gnarled branches.
it’s dark now and i can’t see the stars.
there’s too much smoke around your eyes. you look like a demon now. why did i think you could have ever
in the first place?
if there is such a thing as too happy, perhaps it is you.
(or perhaps i am just too sad.)
either way, you are indeed sunshine for my soul,
lifting all the sheets of dust from my heavy eyes, making me forget the inconveniences of life for a small fraction of this breathing.
what even is suffering?
perhaps it is too hard of a thing to even think.
it was your openness from which you spoke so eloquently that reeled me in. (remember.)
you colored my gray world and introduced me to music i had never heard before. your humor was intoxicating and your demeanor much too grand for my little world.
you became everything i ever wanted, which was just more of myself.
(isn’t that beautiful?)
a sweet folk song pattering through lines of sarcastic wit, crescendoing with the true compassion of your soul.
don’t worry too much. let the bad times pass.
be there for each other.
you were more pivotal in my life than you will ever really know.
i’m glad to know you. we’ve become much more than i ever imagined.
a small room that became a mansion.
the walls built up and torn down and remodeled and rebuilt.
it’s an old house now.
(when did it become so old?)
there are rooms we haven’t entered in years. there are some places we haven’t ever gone.
i hope this mansion becomes an artifact of a distant past for centuries to come.
strong and bright, you are light among these storms. some we’ve faced together, and some on our own.
what a rare and beautiful rock we found through thick grass and deep water. what a sight to see and hear and taste and smell. a strange notion to think that we are much more than two people on this planet. we are the ocean’s waves and the red rocks of the desert. we can conquer the mountains and the rivers and deep lakes and streams.
we were born among the same thread sewn by our mothers (and fathers).
and yet we are our own.
(very much our own.)
thank you for staying between the passing of seasons and changing of tides. this road’s not always easy, but we’re making big strides.
you fill me with this unbridled love for the moment. i forget the anxieties of the day and just listen to the music and feel the wind cascading through the branches of my outstretched arms.
watch rivers flow and trees grow tall. with sand between toes, let words fall out onto lines on pages perfectly crafted into velvet strings i can’t quite claim to be of my own making.
(bear witness,) you are the color of my energy.