It Was Love at First Haiku

by Mark Chmiel

Maria told me to contact you
When you were fresh back from El Salvador

And perhaps needing another shoulder to lean on
After re-entering this meshugah militarized greed culture

There we sat at a table
At Café Ventana

And soon you spread before me
Your final project from the previous semester

You stayed up all night to do it
It had to be that way

Had to cut through the sleepiness
To pour out all that had accumulated—

On each page a water color by you
And a special photo

And a haiku on one page in Spanish
And on the facing page your translation into English

How moved your compañeras in the class must have been!
Your multiple forms connecting

To the many people who made a place
For you in their hearts

Es verdad— the impossibility of writing an eight-page
Double-spaced, TNR font, academic paper

After a semester like yours
in the campo and San Salvador

That’s when I asked your major
And you said, Public Health

And I asked, Why, when you can do something like this
waving my hand before your masterpiece?

But of course Public Health and poetry
Can be companionable

Like forty-something Angelica
And twenty-year-old Ale can be companionable

May you live to be 90, or 120
And always remember when you did that projecto

You up at 4 a.m.
Aching to give birth to appreciation and awe

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