How often can we truly claim a friend
who’ll give, without embarrassment or pride,
immeasurable love, and take in stride
our failures, overlooking ways we’ve sinned
against the name of friendship; one who’ll spend
each moment in our shadows satisfied
to simply listen, watch, and gently guide
in loving ways few humans comprehend?
Anticipating need, the Maker chose
to set aside from claw and hoof and horn
the nobler elements in pure repose
with greed, conceit, and jealousy forsworn.
Unbridled gusto, muddy paws, cold nose;
Devoted Dog, of such is legend born.
2001 Mary Boren
He had curly brown hair
and a wooden leg.
I was tall and straight,
untouched by adversity.
We were seven.
Children called him Paulio
without a whiff of malice,
lining up for the novelty
of knocking wood —
playing knick-knack on one small knee.
I called him Paul
and carried his books,
always setting my pace to his.
We mapped music together
priming piano keys
with chocolate crowns
raided from Mama’s secret stash.
Chip for note, one for each.
Gobble – plink – giggle,
giggle – gobble – plink …
In the half-dappled shade of time,
blink and fade like fireflies,
as moments relived
run the full scale of emotion.
Unflappable Paul —
boundless blue eyes, crooked grin.
Every feature lingers
in clear focus —
each scene replays
to the tune of tenderness.
One muddy afternoon
I saw him fall in the ditch.
and ran to him … crying.
The woman driving by
saw only that he was down
and I was up.
She screeched to the curb,
blasting, lambasting me
through an open window
with her closed mind.
I would have carried Paul
through flying bullets
on bloody feet.
My shoulders drooped all the way home,
but not from the weight of his books.
2011 Mary Boren
I offer only words—a tribute owed
with love as, year on year, your friendship flanks
my closely guarded self, where dark and dank’s
the atmosphere at times, and sharp’s the goad
that challenges a friend to dig. Bestowed
on me are gifts for which my soul gives thanks
with peaceful joy. Your golden presence ranks
front/center in its deepest motherlode.
Dear honorary sister mine, you’ve mined
the secret tunnels of my life with sure
and sweeping strokes; unselfish, ever kind,
insightful, patient. Gently, you endure.
I celebrate the Maker who designed
the miracle within your heart. It’s pure.
1999 Mary Boren
When a friend is sad and hurting
all my efforts seem in vain,
futile in the quest for wording
to alleviate the pain.
Seeing how your load is weighted
more than one can bear alone,
it seems only fair to trade it
for the lighter one I own.
Friend, if I could offer more to
ease your burden, don’t you know
I would gladly tote it for you,
alternating as we go?
2003 Mary Boren
If I were you and you were me
I wonder if our selves would be
as predisposed to this degree
of enmity, our enmity.
And if the pair of us should find
a union of divided mind,
together might we be inclined
to stay aligned? We’d stay aligned.
Soon everyone could be immersed
in friendship, evenly dispersed
across the globe with roles reversed:
Each other first, all others first.
Imagine such esprit de corps
resulting from two hearts’ rapport:
a world where selfishness and war
would be no more, would be no more.
Mary Boren, 2010