Without Knowing

Without Knowing April 28, 2014


Our first encounters with love shape us and have a lasting impact on how we meet the world. Triggered by a young couple in a café, this poem helped me look back and understand the gift we give each other as we’re just beginning to form both inwardly and outwardly.


Without Knowing

Lifting my second coffee to my lips,

I see a young couple near the window.

They’re falling in love. I can tell by the

way he brushes her hair aside, so he can

see her face. Before I can sip, there you

are, across from me, more than forty

years ago. I did the same thing. Parting

your auburn hair, I fell into your eyes.

It undid me, which meant I could no

longer follow the path others had set

for me. Isn’t this the purpose of love?

We only had a few years of opening

what we could in each other, before

you fell into another. You broke my

heart. It took a decade of poking at the

ashes to accept that we sent each other

on our way. Now, in my sixties, after

losing and finding what matters, enough

times to realize that the losing and find-

ing comes and goes like surf that shapes

the sand of our heart, I know I fell through

your eyes, so many years ago, into the sweet,

resilient place only opened by love, where

we get to see our own worth, unformed

like raw material. It takes years of ham-

mering and being hammered to see

what we can shape from what we’re

given. Strange to pick up this conver-

sation now. I take another sip, and

through the steam, can see the young

woman glimpse her worth briefly in her

jittery, young man. I sip and feel the gift

you were without your even knowing. I

don’t even know if you’re still alive. But

in this café, from another continent

of time, I can softly thank you.


A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of an early love or friendship that allowed you to see your own potential.


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