First Lessons

We meant the same things, you and I.
Or I thought we did.

Across each other at the table,
the afternoon washed past
across the windows,
with a sound of leaves.

You'd start, and I'd follow,
you holding your breath
each time it came my turn.
"Hoffen Sie?" you'd say.
I'd start to answer,
stop, and then,
just when the words began
to fall in place, forget just what it was
I was supposed to say.

"Ich hoffe, ich hoffe!" you'd exclaim,
and half collapse against your chair.
Across the table centrepiece,
our eyes would meet.

They never understood.
"Such a head for words!" you'd told them,
when they'd come back from the play,
rising to pack up your books
from where, at the window, it had been
the two of us.

I wonder if you knew.

Some evenings when I’m outside
and the rush of leaves
sweeps past me, I wonder
what you're thinking of
at that moment.

Sometimes I think,
maybe it's stars,
and knowing you'd be counting,
wonder if, already past
you'd paused to see if,
by mistake,
there was one you'd
left behind.

Schatz, if you're listening,
I've something to tell you:
Ich habe dich gern.

Though there are times
the words still manage to come out
the way you never thought
to teach them to.


  1. Short link -

  2. Lovely! Though I honestly think you should ditch the last stanza entirely...maintain the wonderful mystery throughout, or somehow convert portions of the last stanza into.. german, is it? Seriously, the secrecy of "love notes" in this is strong to me...

  3. Thanks, I am glad this spoke to you.

    The last stanza is very important actually, it is a double-entendre in terms of words mispronounced or meanings misunderstood.

    It is also important not just in framing the relationship and characterizing the speaker's hesitancy, but also stylistically in blunting an "Ich habe dich gern" ending, which would be a more expected ending, but which I expressedly didn't want.

  4. I see...Lovely! Cheers, E

  5. sam this one is--

    (i was sitting here lost somehow in my thoughts and yours, so i read it again, and will..)

    a gentle, yet stunning afterthought


    and thanks for your kind words, i'm doing my best to make my way back, i've been writing as always, but not online as much, but here, i'm here, and you remembered. thank you. be in touch.


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