First Love

Nathaniel Hawthorne

13 Sep, 2009 08:59 AM

She seemed to bob
on her sister's
matted silver bike
I watched for,
not yet able to reach
the high seat,
working her way
up car-free Penn Street,
and I would make as if
I hadn't seen her
when she rode by.

After she had passed
I learned what emptiness meant
and felt its keen brutal lance
pierce deep
into my thin breast.

But worst of all
was evenings in autumn
when she pedalled home
out across Main Street
through the smoke of leaves
burning at the curbsides,
with the moon
a soft round lantern
hanging over her
in the trees.


She was older now
and we had gone our ways
but she would come walking
down Penn Street
past my window
every Friday evening
at exactly ten minutes to eight
carrying her violin case
and I would stand there
behind a thin curtain, waiting.

Her rich black hair flowed long,
at times a stray strand streaked
down over her eye
brushing back past a pendant earring.
Once she came in a rainstorm
her hair ravelled, dripping,
her face wet and gleaming—
ah, more beautiful she was then
than she had ever been before.

I would watch her walk
upright, buoyant, her visage shining
her very carriage betraying
her being loved already
by someone worthier than I
who had inched his way
into my banned paradise.

Could it be just by chance, I asked,
that she was thinking of me
as she looked straight ahead
walking past, smiling thoughtfully?
What pain was caused to me
by my inadequacy
to muster charms I lacked
and character enough
to aspire to her high caste.

How that loss has haunted me,
that wound festered
throughout the years.
There has been no cure,
no escaping, no way back
to where my treasure was
that ever after I have lacked.

Often I would wake at night
trembling, calling out her name.
One rainy night I thought I saw her
through the curtain
standing at my window
holding out her hand.

Then I remembered the thread,
tender and thin,
we once said we had spun
between us,
each from our own end
and fused where they met
to bind us together
for all time to come.

Flinging back the curtain
my eyes met hers
and she smiled,
like she did then.

In her hand she held a thread
offering it to me lovingly—
and I, with hands extended
with fingers straining
stretched to take hold,
yet each attempt
kept falling short
of that holy cord.


We were but children then
in a Garden of Eden
made just for us two,
where nothing else mattered
but you were loved by me
and that I was loved by you.

Now the longing for that,
my long-lost love,
has brought you back anew,
so I have begun to love you
with that pure innocent love
our childrenhearts once knew.
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Running Inside says:
08 Feb, 2010 10:41 AM

such a remarkingly beautiful poem. It's emotion frowns my brow when I read it. Your heart aches for this girl. I loved it.

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Jenn says:
19 Aug, 2010 07:52 PM

This is beautiful.

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Kristin says:
16 Apr, 2012 01:02 AM

oh my gosh, im like crying right now <3

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