Appropriate Poetry

In August of 2001, I traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina with a friend of mine.  We spent several days in the city, checking out the area and the people.  We even investigated a few apartment complexes because we loved the place enough to consider relocating.  The thing I remember most was a giant yellow chair.  It must’ve been been part of a local art exhibit- there were chairs randomly placed around the downtown area, each of them decorated in a different manner.

I stopped and stared at the yellow one.  I couldn’t tear myself away from the poem that was scrawled across the seat.  It was about discovering yourself again after the end of a relationship.  I tried to memorize the whole thing and failed.  For years, I could only remember the the last line:  Peel  your image from the mirror.  Feast on life.

In February of 2010, I found myself in the Charlotte area again.  One evening I parked my car downtown and walked several blocks in search of those chairs.  I never found them.

Last night I sat outside, enjoying dinner with a friend while she told me about her recent trip to visit her family in North Carolina.  “I’m in love with myself when I’m there,” she told me.  “I feel like I’m living.”  Of course, I felt the need to tell her about my first visit to Charlotte and the poem on the chair.

Today, I couldn’t get the mystery poem out of my head.  It feels oh-so-appropriate right now— for many reasons.  So, I googled those last few words and to my surprise (cuz I’d tried this before), Google knew what I was talking about and auto-filled the field for me.  A few clicks later and I discovered this:

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott
Mystery solved!  I printed the words and stuck them on my fridge— which isn’t quite as creative as showcasing the poem on a chair, but it’ll do for me, for now.

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  1. I love the poem, Tara. I’m glad you found “the rest of it” and were able to share it. I missed the chair display. I was living in the NC mountains at the time. North Carolina has long been a huge producer of furniture. The chairs may have had something to do with that. Just a guess.

  2. Wow that poem is awesome and so on point. It’s really what moving on and forward is all about isn’t it? That almost brought a tear to my eye. Beautiful!

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