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we met,
aged thirteen, me
badly scarred from two years
of systematic public humilation

and she, unknowing of same, and
beautiful in spirit...and form
and I, I fell
in love

but had no
 confidence in my worth...
and no understandings of the games
that human love entails

and, sadly
I still do not...compliments
from me are never ploys, they can only
come (truly) heartfelt

and are,
even now, awkward
in that my habits of self-denigration,
as a man, are so deeply etched

but, then 
I could not even offer her any, so
deeply had my self-worth
been diminished

but she,
she was beautiful and, yet
had no sense of same
as a weapon

sadly (again)
I have since judged all by
her standard, and found most beauty
deeply wanting, in this most
essential grace

 still, we
became friends, and she
admired my artwork...whilst I, I discovered blues
through her taste for its descendents

and, we exchanged gifts...awkwardly,
neither truly fathoming the roots
of our tastes

and, yet
briefly, we were soul mates, of sorts
or, at least, I was agape
whilst she

amidst her gentle spirit, that
always found humour - never worthlessness - in the failings of others
taught me not to blame my failings upon women
as so many sad misogynists
have done

she was
my lifeline - to the blithe spirit
of my lost youth well, she seemed to better that
- to prove we can truly have more than unknowing joys, without
losing their flavour

the last
time we met, however,
was terrible

she’d left
school, being un-academic
- and, as all of us, unknowing of the times ahead -
as soon as she could

I’d stayed on...of course
a bookworm pre-destined for much, much more
 of the same

mere weeks before
 leaving Croydon for good,
I’d accompanied my parents in a visit

to a new shopping centre...just opened out east

and, wandering aimlessly - I saw her...kneeling to a shelf
of products, that unthinking customers had disarrayed

my mind froze

I suddenly realized
 that, perhaps...she might have
undertaken my uncertain journey with me...and, that
I owed this girl...kneeling before an array of worthless goods

more than I ever could say

some commonplaces, in lieu of real

and I’ve never - ever - seen her again

 my failure...
particularly at this point
still wounds me

I will remain diminished
by it.

we never
kissed, so this
is no conventional
confession of pubescent

- this was a failure of spirit -

to the one that had - crucially - begun to
heal my wounds

and that
is truly something
that I can never cease to mourn

John Henry Calvinist