A bittersweet poem from the author to his childhood best friend.
*Trigger warning for Mental Illness.
Illustration by Romina Badiei (Graphic designer, The Continuist)
By Aodhán Campbell (he/him, IG: @aodhan.soup)
Content Creator: Poetry, The Continuist
Growing up with disability
Meant being ostracised.
Like part of an equation
Everyone collectively parenthesised
And set aside as a problem
To be solved at a later point in time.
Nobody but you
Ever got around to it.
You were the best friend I’ll ever have
Before I ever even knew it.
I’ve known you since I was younger,
And completely hopeless
When it came to talking with other people.
We first met in kindergarten,
Playing running games.
Well, evading playing running games.
You found my hiding spot during tag.
I kicked you out.
For me, as good a start to friends as any.
You still are my best friend.
That much hasn’t changed.
When I say that you’re my best friend,
I don’t mean to say
That I think we’re best friends.
I know better than anyone
That that isn’t true.
You’re my best friend.
I missed my chance
To be that to you.
I have tried so many times
And in so many ways
Through nights I haven’t slept at all
And more days than I care to say
To write a poem about you.
I’ve never finished one,
The words fall short,
The way I truly feel description defying.
They fall so far short of what I really mean,
That it feels like I’m lying.
Even now, the words fall short.
How can I begin to say it?
I’ve felt it since we were kids
When your face
First found it’s permanent place
Traced on the insides of my eyelids.
I wish more than anything
That I could bear my heart
To bridge the distance we’ve grown apart.
I’ve missed you.
I guess that’s an alright start.
But the words fall short.
You used to write me notes.
And cute little drawings
You drew for me by hand
When I was the only kid
Was never in demand.
I still have those notes all these years later.
You don’t remember making them,
But they mean the world to me.
No, those words fall short.
On my fifteenth birthday
You gave me a gift
Of fifty origami stars.
As I unfolded each one,
Was something to love about me.
More things to love
Than I could then have conceived of,
Enormously raising the bar
For best gift I’d ever received.
And still, those words fall short.
You helped me brave
You made sure I knew
That I was never alone.
You showed me
The first real kindness I’d known.
And I wasted your good grace,
Taking for granted
That I’d ever had so dear a friend
In the first place.
The words fall too damn short.
The three years since I’ve seen you have been okay.
I’m a lot happier now and I get by fine.
But you asked me out for drinks the other day
And I lost my fucking mind.
In a good way, I should say.
And I think I know now
Why I’ve never finished
A poem about my best friend.
I couldn’t stand to tell that story
While it still had a bitter end.
There were no words.
But after everything, you want to grab drinks.
My heart sings at it
And aches most pleasantly.
My eyes sting at it
And in fact sting a little presently.
Although none ever do,
I wish you knew the light you bring.
And like I once did,
The words fall so terribly, terribly short.
I’d really like that.