If I had never read his poem that day
(it was a day with nothing much to do)
our lives would have been lived in separate ways.

I wrote a note to praise the poem and say
the words were elegant, the premise true,
that I was richer for his poem that day.

He wrote back, was flattered by my praise
and kindly read some of my own poems too.
Then we both went upon our separate ways.

I saw his name again, a poem that strayed
to metaphor as childhood hurt will often do.
I felt a kinship in his poem that day.

Our paths so different, half a world away,
yet we began a friendship, and it grew —
a poets’ bond we share on separate ways.

We trade first drafts, critique, find what should stay,
trust what the other sees, a gift I’d rue
if I had never read his poem that day.
Lives would be poorer traced in separate ways.

– Sarah Russell

The prompt at dVerse was to write about a gift.  My thoughts turned into a villanelle.

22 thoughts on “A Friendship

    1. I’ve always admired the form, but I’ve never tried it before this poem. And I have no idea why it took this form. It just seemed right. I almost put a caveat at the beginning to ask people to be gentle since it was my first try at a villanelle, but I decided to just take the lumps if they came. And yes, your saying that the set lines form waves is a perfect description.

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  1. Hurrah — comment section is here. I enjoyed this a lot….sometimes long-distance relationships can really seem like short distances in terms of the connections! I especially liked the words “trust what the other sees, a gift.” It is a rare gift, total honesty with someone.

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  2. Yup. It’s great when you trust so much that you can just have at it — you don’t need line 3, line 5 is stale, etc. Sometimes it means killing darlings, but when you know your writing buddy is working for the good of the poem, you can surrender ego. Thanks, Lillian.

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      1. I imagine you can do more or less what you like. I’ve read lots of villanelles that bend the rules and don’t stick to just two rhymes or six stanzas or repeat the first and third lines. I tend to stick to the rules because that’s part of the challenge.

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  3. Such a beautiful friendship. I’m sure he knows he is incredibly fortunate to have met you, Sarah and must be flattered to have such nice words written about him. A wonderful, inspiring poem, my friend 🙂

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  4. I love this ‘poets’ bond’ and sharing. A touching poem. Sometimes I wonder what would I do if internet wasn’t there. This friendship is truly a gift to all of us.

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    1. I agree. The internet opens the world to us. I’d never have read the fine poets who aren’t “big names” if it weren’t for being able to connect online. And yes, the ‘poets’ bond’ is a special one.

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  5. I so appreciated your tribute to your long-distance friendship. I have such a long-distance friend and we each say the other is the best friend we’ve never met! As for the villanelle … I admire your skill at adapting it to your very personal story. Bravo

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