His curly dark hair shimmered with dandruff, detracting from his coffee-stink breath. He wore wrinkled blue seersucker suits in warm weather and corduroy jackets with patched elbows in cold. Nervous and shy, his hands and voice trembled when he stood in front of the blackboard explaining algebraic formulas to a bunch of disinterested teenagers.
He seemed young and old at the same time. And he had violet eyes—I kid you not! The most beautiful eyes I had ever seen behind a pair of dark-rimmed glasses.
My heart burned with love for this nervous nerd. I adored him throughout algebra and again during Life Sciences. I worshipped the ground he walked, waiting expectantly to catch glimpses of him between classes and after school.
I even wrote him a poem. I forgot it for many years, and suddenly, one day, I remembered part of it.
Bitter Fragment of a Beautiful Dream
My love, thou hast hearkened to my sorrows
Ere the night as ere the day;
Among the grasses of these meadows
Hast thou hearkened to my laughter
Clearly echoing the joy bound in thine heart.
Beyond the hill hath mine hand wept in thine:
Thou wip-ed away the tears.
Beside the stream—how sweetly flows the rivulet wine!—
Thou rejoiced as mine;
We wept for the years,
Since-parted, we knew each other not.
Belov-ed, thou hast planted deep the seed of love,
And how it grows!—
Reaching, reaching for the height of its passion,
But endlessly reaching—
I love thee.
My sweet, thou hast made pure of me a lover.
A burning fire scorches the flesh and tendons of my soul,
Melting fast the waxen candle:—
I love thee as myself,
For I love thee as thyself,
And as one should we destine,
Striving for the highest and deepest aspirations
Or Death . . .
(Beginning of poem written Spring, 1970 for R.B, remembered Spring, 1986)
You see here, of course, the influences of the great Romantic poets, with whom I was obsessed: Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Byron, and especially, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. How the world burned with love, passion, and death! For love had to end in a tragic, prolonged death. Young love, undying love. Romeo and Juliet. Catherine and Heathcliff.
I found a photo of R.B. in an old high school yearbook. Examining the greasy hair, weak chin, thin body, I could only exclaim: WHAT WAS I THINKING BACK THEN? Romeo and Juliet? Hardly. Catherine and Heathcliff? No way!
I often wonder if he achieved his goal. Is he a Doctor of Philosophy now in Physics? Does he still teach? And I still remember his deep, soul-sinking violet eyes. But not my cup of tea. No, definitely not! But he was my love, my very first love, and I treasure that memory. Always.
Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.