Am I a Poet, but Don’t Know It?

Word Girl
At a dinner party a few months ago, I was asked by a friend if I was a poet. “No,” I quickly and definitively answered.

And then she queried “How do you know?”

I didn’t speak it, but I thought it: Duh, I think I’d know if I was a poet.

I tried to be pithy in my actual response to her: “Maybe I’m a poet and I don’t even know it.” She rolled her eyes and changed the subject.

But her question stuck with me all these months.

I have over the years tried my hand at poetry. Haven’t we all?

But I was never good at rhyming. The perfect timing of rhyme scheming seemed cheesy to me. Now I recognize that not all poems have to rhyme, but they often flow better when they do.

I wrote a Haiku once, but the three-line rule, totaling 17 syllables throughout seemed forced.  And three lines was near impossible for someone like me.

As the self-proclaimed queen of verbiage, the poems I have written over the years have been rather longish. Getting a four-page poem to rhyme and flow would take a fair amount of poetic talent. Or maybe they aren’t poems at all. Maybe they’re super short, short stories.

So here’s my question: Am I a poet?

For those of you who are familiar with my writing style, you know that I can occasionally be sardonically witty.  But for the most part, I am supremely morose. I apologize for that. Sort of.

Anyway, I combed through some of my journals and found this entry I felt compelled to share. It was one long rant of a paragraph, so I chopped it up a bit. Perhaps you too have an ex-friend. Perhaps I am a poet after all.

It’s my birthday today
and I’m not thinking about
how I’m going to spend it.
I’m thinking about
my ex-best friend
and how I wish we were
fourteen again
caring only about
boys and clothes,
and  listening to
Simon and Garfunkel
while we weep over
life-altering happenings.
First kisses and sweet sixteen’s,
pimples, breakups, and proms,
becoming women,
high school graduation
and leaving for college.
I want my teenage years back,
and my grandmother,
and my dog Raleigh.
I want to sleep out in a tent
in my then still best friend’s backyard
and sneak boys into her house
while everyone is asleep.
And I long to hear her mother’s shrill voice,
ordering us to shape up.
I want to giggle with her
and hang out for hours
in her magazine-perfect bedroom.
But her room is gone
and so is our youth,
and her parents.
And our friendship.
And I wonder what we will share next.
What event might break
the silence.
The thought is unnerving
and scary
so I put it out of my mind.
Instead, I remember
the good times
the old times
when we were young and naïve
with flowers in our pigtails.
Kodak color prints
of the two of us
in teeny weeny bikinis,
with our hair in jumbo curlers.
And then engagements,
marriage, pregnancy,
the miracle of birth,
I want to remember
everything, even the
bad times,
because we shared them.
Heartbreak, deceit,
tough love,
health scares,
divorce, remarriage,
rejection, repudiation,
the golden years,
ex-best friends forever.
Girl on a park bench

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