many sweetnesses

I’m feeling a bit nostalgic  today, but the gentle sort –  numbing and dreamy  for something I can’t place. Maybe it’s this slowly growing realization that your late twenties bring lots of changes – most notably the distance between friends and loved ones and the amount of time you spend with them. Close friendships can be sustained and are expected to be sustained in shorter, more spread out bouts of time. It’s par for the course of growing older I suppose – we have jobs, graduate school and  relationships now.

A couple of months ago, I got an unexpected text message in the middle of the night from an old dear friend who I no longer talk to. I think about her often and it’s one of my biggest regrets that the friendship failed the way it did. She was one of those people who altered the course of your life and felt more close than most relationships ever come. The text said something to the effect of how much better and wonderful things were when we were younger and how she missed those days. Me too, I thought. Me too.

I’m not sure exactly how the poem below relates to what I’m feeling – but I love it. I’m also not sure how any of this relates to playwriting – but, many of my plays are about female friendships and the complexity inherent in them.


Just when it has seemed I couldn’t bear
one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
has come
and changed nothing in the world

except the way I stumbled through it,
for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving

someone or something, the world shrunk
to mouth-size,
hand-size, and never seeming small.

I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn’t leave a stain,
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet. …

Tonight a friend called to say his lover
was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low

and guttural, he repeated what he needed
to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief

until we were speaking only in tones.
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don’t care

where it’s been, or what bitter road
it’s traveled
to come so far, to taste so good.

Stephen Dunn


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