The Red String


For James

There is a red string tied to my finger
I did not tie it there.
Two seconds ago,
There was no red string tied to my finger.
I sat in my hard desk, facing the teacher, eyes on the window
Beyond the hazy window
And the autumn tree
And the blue sky beyond that.
The string tugs at my finger,
Lifting it slightly.
My brown eyes follow the string
Across the classroom
Under the door
And then I do, too.
The string goes all the way out of the heavy, metal school door
The front gates, locked
And to the street beyond
So I go, too.
Leaves crunch under my feet
Wind dances with my hair
As I follow my finger
Attached to the red string
I follow it down a few blocks
To my house
To my car
And get inside.
My arm stays out of the car,
Elbow resting on my window
My finger points east, so
I follow the red string
To the airport
The airplane floats along on the wind, jumping from cloud to cloud
I follow the red string
To Ann Arbor, Michigan
I follow the red string into a taxi
That smells like saffron
And then the tug on my red string stops
So I stop the taxi
My breath stops
The end of my red string is sewn onto a blue flannel shirt
Down the sidewalk
Leaves crunching
That a boy is wearing
Flannel smiles at me
As my finger pulls me forward
Leaves crunching

“A Chinese proverb says an invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, despite the time, the place, despite the circumstances. The thread can be tightened or tangled, but never be broken.”

A little note on the poem “The Red String.” A friend of mine, whose awesome music you can listen to here, was being berated by his other friend about his lyrics. And after listening to that going on for a while, I chimed in, “I love your music. It’s simple. Great music can be simple.” Some of the best Beatles music was the songs they made in the ‘60s, simple, unadorned. And the same can be said for poems. Poems like this would have made me gag a couple years ago, but after falling in love, they strike me right in my heartstring. Simple can be powerful. Simple can be more difficult than complex. Simple can be scary. I was inspired to write this poem by this tumblr‘s post, and my boyfy James :} And btw, I wrote it as I listened to this.

❤ Naomi

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