working on a tale to tell and came upon a poem in chapter five

Have you ever felt a connection, a pull to someone whom you’ve never met or will meet again? I have. Often. One of those people happened in my life on a sad day, interesting, a few of them have. Writing this reminds me of a heart-wrenching December day a few years back when I went in search of a wedding dress. Fodder for another blog.

Why this one was sad I don’t remember. January 29, 2006, my last day in Puerto Rico. I left my Mom’s apartment to spend the day in Old San Juan, roaming the cobblestone streets until I had to go to the airport, and into a small shop I went. It was cool and comfortably dark inside. I looked and touched a couple of books, magnets, pottery. The young woman tending the shop was painting, I think, replicas of the colorful doors of Old San Juan. I picked up a poetry book — I am not into poetry, but like some very much.

the first book I read froze me to the spot

I had to fight back tears. Read a few more poems. Saw two other small books written by the same poet. She was a young woman, her photograph was on the back. Looked through them over and over, couldn’t move. She wrote my thoughts. That was me on paper. I don’t remember how long I was there, but it was a lot longer than I anticipated. Didn’t care.

at last, I chose a book — thought it silly to buy all three

“I wasn’t sure which to buy.”

“We ship,” she said.

I paid for it and the young woman asked if I’d like the book signed. My brain did summersaults. It is her — the photo on the back! She spoke to me in English, I answered in Spanish. When I’m there I seem foreign, and when I’m here I do too. Don’t get it.

I was halfway up the hill towards the fort, where I love to sit with street food to say goodbye to the island, when I began to cry. I waited it out, cleared my face and throat, and went back to the little shop.

“I’m taking them all.” I placed them on the table.

“You’ve made my day.” She whispered, as she beautifully signed and dated them too.

She had no way of knowing she made mine and continues to make my day whenever I read her poems.

I ended up sitting on my favorite bench overlooking the ocean, fort, and cemetery. It may seem morbid, but it isn’t, really. You must see the full picture, the whole place, to understand.

Whatever didn’t get seen would have to wait. There was nothing else for me in Old San Juan on that January day. So I ate, drank the forbidden passion fruit juice (do not tell my mother), and read the poems.

Looking through one of the books, I see petals from 2006 in between some of the pages.

i want to soothe

05.23.2020
originally written May 19, added the soothing line on the 23rd, felt like posting today