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To Know Fear in Love

July 21, 2010

The thing that happens when you move is that you find things you thought you’d lost. In my case this time it was a blank journal from Borders that I bought in 1997 and filled the first 30 pages or so with poetry.

It was poetry I was writing in this other between time in my life, beginning with a mission trip I took that summer to the Philippines, where I spent seven weeks living with a pastor and his family in an unfinished cement block house behind a Baptist church. The last entry is from August 2001, a month after I’d packed everything I owned into an ’87 Subaru wagon and drove down the long stretch of Florida to Miami where the rest of my life would begin.

“In four years you won’t recognize yourself,” it says on the front. I had no idea when I pasted that strip of copy I’d clipped from a magazine to the top of the cover just how true it would turn out to be.

I was reminded of this poetry in the two weeks between the recent end of my second stint in Miami and my relocation to Connecticut. I met up with a dear friend who was my roommate back when I’d bought the book.

“There was this one poem I loved,” she said. “Something about horses. I remember you wrote it after reading a question on an English test you were giving your students. I think I even have it written down somewhere.”

I remembered the poem then, though I hadn’t thought of it in years. As I unpacked a box of books and loaded up our bookshelf, I saw the journal and realized that’s where it must be. Tonight, in the quiet following an afternoon of rain, I found it. According to the note that follows the last line, I finished it at 7:05 pm (it is 7:04 right now) on June 22, 1999, in the middle of a thunderstorm.

I’ve been thinking about this blog and how it has evolved from my original intent, thoughtful writing about how to engage employees online. These days I use it as a forum for writing that is closer to the heart than the head. Yet I haven’t changed the title. Here’s why.

Yesterday at work, not 15 feet from the water cooler, I asked a colleague a simple question, but one that somehow cut through the everyday chatter we’ve had for the last four years to something deeper. We really talked. It didn’t have anything to do with the what he and I do every day, but that human connection made me feel closer to the place it happened, the context within which we know each other: our work.

Well, for what its worth, here’s the poem. I’m glad I found it and the others with it in that green volume. It was like rediscovering an old friend, a central part of me.

To Know Fear in Love

Why did she run when she saw the horses?
She loved them behind fences.
She loved them stalled.
Tethered, she’d circle the corral,
Proud postured on their backs.
Behind a door, she’d offer apples
When they were standing still.
She’d brush them, breathe the dust
That rose from her small hands,
Lean into their brown heat
And strong shoulders.
But she was out to pasture this time.
She’d no warning they’d been loosed,
Driven in a delicious run.
There was nothing between them,
Nothing but summer this time.
She knew them all by name.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. David F. permalink
    July 22, 2010 11:02 pm

    Well done. I like the turn the blog has taken. As you so honestly pointed out, engaging closely with a fellow worker brings new depth to the workplace.

    All too often we are told to leave our personal lives at work, but to “make it personal” for our customers. How can we interact with our coworkers or clients in any meaningful way if we leave our “personhood” at home?

    I appreciate the intimacy and transparency with which you write.

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