As tangled branches grow
Together and around — so
Friendship is a living word,
A slow change worked,
Overseen by smaller gods.
It wasn’t meant to be a poem, but Adelaide had done something funny to me with its Mediterranean-like sunlight, artistry, and wonderful beer. And so I started thinking about the last time I had done something that could be called “growing up.” On the porch at Hannah’s house I scribbled it out in bright chalk, making something that would take a long time to wash away because it hardly ever rains where she lives. The memory of Hannah, to me, has a dusty backdrop of semi-desert and hills, the same way Daan seems to carry all the light and space of her apartment around her curly head.
It wasn’t meant to be finished, but this is the form as solid as I can make it and …
It wasn’t meant to be remembered, but Daan’s apartment has bare floors and chalk, and as I sprawled half on the carpet, half on the concrete, something came back.
It wasn’t meant for anyone in particular, but it turned out to be for someone I met when I was 16. I changed schools, then, and discovered something better than buried treasure. Here be friends, the map should have said. Here be the beginning of feeling safe again.
I called him from a phonebox in Melbourne’s suburb of Prahran.
“Can we write a book? Can we, can we? It’ll be an epic about the time we tried to go to the local pub and accidentally ended up on a round-the-world tour instead! I know it didn’t happen, but …”
He said yes.
I called him from a hostel in the Dandenong Mountains.
“I’ve been reading about Bhutan,” I told him. “When you’re rich, can we go there? It’s one quarter national parks, and the king’s stated policy is Gross National Happiness before Gross Domestic Product.”
He said yes.
I called him from someone else’s phone, sitting under a tree on the Hoe in Plymouth.
“She says you’ve converted to Mormonism,” I told him. “Have you really?”
He said … actually, that time he said no.
He won’t thank me for writing this. But I wanted to tell him: You mean the world to me. I wanted to say: Thanks, for being the last one to grow up with me.