Grey is the color of my true love's cloak,
Like misty rain or rising smoke.
The ash remains
Its color drained.
Who will take note of ash or rain?
Her grey to me is every color
Here together in my lover.
Grey is the color of my true love's stare,
Like winter's snow on freezing air
To hold at bay
And keep away
The others who would dare invade.
Her grey to me is flannel-warm
To wrap me and protect from harm.
Grey is the color of my true love's eyes,
Cool and soft as autumn skies.
A dagger's blade
And some may feel her gaze could slay.
Her eyes to me are kitten-grey
Hold her close and never stray.
Grey is the color of my true love's soul,
The cloudy days when thunder rolled
And deeping night
Obscured our sight
Sending dreams of dread and fright.
Her soul to me is some soft dawning
The pearl-grey light and promise calling.
I think of her so far away—
My warm soft lover clad in grey.
Living in a platonic relationship comes with its own set of strange challenges. While one may love, value, and even worship one's platonic life partner, the need to be needed, the desire to be desired ... that is a primal instinct that is very hard to tame. When a young person of particular charisma appears in the life of one of the partners, things can get a little odd.
When I was about 30 years old, I somehow wound up with a small gang of penpals—almost all of them were attractive women between the ages of 18 and 22, and most were interested in goth music. Please allow me to emphasize that I never went looking for cute young goth girls to correspond with, and I made sure to let them know that I was emphatically not some sort of dirty old man with bad intent. These friendships allowed me to participate in the romantic old tradition of letter writing, meet some really cool friends and, in those pre-E2 days, they forced me to write.
Then, there was Marie.
A stunningly pretty elfin queen from deep in bayou country, she had a deeply creative talent for art, photography and poetry that left me in profound admiration. I got a little smitten with my talented young friend, but it was not easy to own up to, even to myself.
We enjoyed our correspondence—we exchanged recommendations of good music to listen to and books to read. I have long enjoyed reading poetry aloud so I would read my favourite poems into a cassette recorder for her. We occasionally talked by telephone and these conversations were always a lot of fun. She sent me well-written poetry, drawings, photos of her work and of herself, her pets and her town. I drew cartoons for her, made anagrams and critiqued her work.
Over the years, my goth girls grew up, got boyfriends and many of them slowly faded from my life. This was not really a sad thing, just a normal part of life. Some of my friends moved to email, some still wrote physical letters, but with decreasing frequency. Marie and I kept writing.
Alright, the poem notwithstanding, frequent reality checks reminded me not to entertain any serious dreams of us becoming anything more than friends. There was simply too much space between us, in terms of both age and geography. Still, after years of self-imposed abstinence, it was fun to flirt and dream.
We never got to meet in person. I suggested it a couple of times, but when she seemed less than enchanted with the idea, I dropped the subject quickly. Whenever I was in her part of the country, I mentioned it to her, in hopes that she might invite me to come by for coffee or something, but that never came to pass.
A few years later, my friend began to enjoy a modest measure of well-deserved professional success. She also got a boyfriend. I was thrilled for her successes, both artistically and romantically. At the same time, I knew things could not help but change between us. Whatever frivolous thoughts I had happened to foster in my heart's most private and irresponsible recesses were subjected to a bright ray of reality. They evaporated like dew on a morning leaf.
In order to move on and heal, I began to dimly perceive a poem—one of the few I have created in my adult life. I thought of Marie and the word grey* came to my mind.
Grey is an underrated colour (okay, it is technically a value, I suppose). It seems to be synonymous with drab, dull and lifeless. But what could be more comforting than a fluffy grey cloud on a hot, sunny day? Or more soothing than the sweet blue-grey of dawn or dusk? Or cozier than a big grey wool sweater when chill breezes dance in the autumn sky? My dear friend Marie could always see beauty where others might just have perceived drabness. The poem tumbled out of my brain and onto the notebook paper quickly. Apart from a few minor tweaks, I have never changed it.
I typed the poem on dove grey paper and sent it to her. She loved it. I never said, "this is about you." She knew it.
I know she will always remember the beauty of grey.
*It has to be spelled that way. I learned to spell the British/Canadian way until the age of eight or nine years, and certain words do not look right to me spelled (spelt?) the USAvian way.