If You Want to Walk With Me (Poetry for the Road Ahead)

One of the things I’m always grateful for is the opportunity to perform my poetry alongside my husband (a percussionist and performance artist). On Sunday night, we were invited to perform at a fundraiser, and we gamely performed a few pieces from our collection of favorites.

Since the audience was mostly teens and college students half our age (!!), I decided to read this piece that I composed a few years ago. I think it’s relevant to people of any age–as long as they believe that a relationship should be built out of one’s own wholeness and desire to love another, not of one’s need to “complete” oneself through a relationship.

I hope you’ll like it. 🙂

Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita
Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita

IF YOU WANT TO WALK WITH ME

If you want to walk with me
You must first know how to stand.
Straight up, with your spine
Erect,
And your head facing
Toward the horizon.

I do not walk with my head turned
To the road we had just crossed.

If you want to walk with me
You must know how to carry yourself
On your own two feet.
You must know when
The burden you are carrying
Is too heavy
And needs to be
Left behind—
Or when your load is
Too light
And you’ll need to pick up
Someone else’s.

I’ve learned that
A while back
And I have no time to teach you that
Now.

If you want to walk with me
You must know how to value
Silence—
To know that, sometimes,
All you really need to hear
Is the crackling of leaves
Under your feet,
Or the murmurs of the wind
Behind your ear,
Or the pounding of your heart
In your own chest,
Or the whispers of your soul
In your own heart.

I do not want distractions—
Sometimes—
Not even the sound of your voice.

If you want to walk with me
You must know
That the forest will not
Change for you.

There will be wild beasts
And barren trees
And cold winds
And—sometimes—nothing much
To see, or eat.
But that is the way of the forest
And we are merely passers-by.
We must know how to survive.

If you want to walk with me
You must understand
That I have carved out my path
Long before inviting you.
I know where I’m going
And who I am—the one
Taking this journey.

I know where I want to go,
So even if I take some detours
Along the way—
It’s all part of the plan.

You must know your own path,
As I will not give you mine.

If you want to walk with me
You must realize
That we start out alone
And we end up alone.
Our paths will meet
And we will walk together—
Sometimes briefly,
Other times,
For what seems like
Eternity.

But our paths are ours and
Ours alone.

So if you want to walk with me
You must know
That someday,
At some point,
We’ll have to head off
On our own
And say farewell.

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