This morning, I had the rare pleasure of seeing my friend Shannon out school shopping with her two adorable little girls. We seem to move in different circles in the real world (as opposed to the virtual world of blogging and Facebook), and seeing Shannon and Julia and Genevieve is such a treat that, after one such rare meeting, I wrote a poem about it. Coincidentally, this afternoon's mail brought a copy of the most recent issue of Green Blade: The Magazine of the Rural America Writers' Center, featuring the poem "Parallel Universe (for Shannon)." The magazine also features poems by fourteen other poets, including my friend Joyce Sutphen (a Minnesota Book Award winner and occasional guest on A Prairie Home Companion).
When I met you downtown, I think I understood
why Julia and Genevieve acted as if I wasn’t there—
perhaps I wasn’t. Perhaps I was only seeing into
the parallel universe where you were living my life.
I recognized the stroller, the cantankerous toddler
in a moment of calm, the preschooler aloof
but absorbing everything around her like a sponge.
I think I recognized the happiness, both precarious
and profound, that sometimes visited me on such
spring mornings, when the world had finally expanded
to its proper size. I think I recognized the exhaustion,
and the claustrophobia of my own personality—
and I think I knew how tenderly and how impatiently
we can remake our lives around the ones we love.
We become someone else, but we are still ourselves.
We may come to wonder how many times we’ve passed
ourselves on the street, smiled in recognition,
felt that stirring of envy, and gratitude, and relief.
Copyright © 2009 by Rob Hardy
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