Peace be with you

At Last I Found a Love, and Now

Rachael Duane

I want to write an occasional poem for every girl 

I knew in eleventh grade, all of us ushered down

 

to somebody’s parent’s basement, who came

to Bible Study to learn the “hows” and “don’ts” of dating. 

 

Yes, a poem for the daughters who descended — still unsure

about boys, but primed by their older sisters’ 

 

practical instruction or the one great teaching 

from the pretty blonde leader with the cartilage piercing.

 

Let us celebrate the red paint on their fingernails 

because it was the shade of thirst they felt;

 

our tongues were curious and incapable of explaining 

how we didn’t want husbands because we couldn’t yet,

 

and so wanted both more and less: a prom date, 

the perfect expression of love beneath a moon.

 

If I could commemorate, honestly, that crowded room

of junior women forming an ideal man together — 

 

swooping hair and sensitive eyes, a past 

redeemable by black coffee and a bass guitar —

 

I’d say how badly we needed permission to be 

as petty and impressionable as we feared we were. 

 

How years later I found him in the flesh — the man we conceived 

— and still I do not know 

 

what to make of his pre-existence in me, that outline 

etched by years of fierce and quiet longing, 

 

of those sweet, passionate prayers I’d been dismissing 

out of guilt, that must have felt to God just a little like kissing.