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Dandelion Squared

for Richard Lee

The door to your office slowed me down. Time
and space were different in there.
I'd sit by you at your desk, focused on that
dandelion squared in clear resin,
pressing it between my palms
in a prayer to you, and listen for the secrets
I knew you had. Things I wouldn't hear
for years passed between us.
You held your fingers up like a temple
in front of you, and laughed. I was young and
so dumb about life; trying everything for the first time,
stumbling lamely toward my disappointed middle age.
I let something about the world come between us,
and thought, the way children think,
that someday I would call or write.
Someday I would say I was sorry.

Now, when I think of you
it's like we passed in the hall
this afternoon. But I am years from there,
sitting by the lake that was always in my future.
I focus on a little fish
free in the frozen over ice. Believe it or not,
I have become that girl again, or I am still that girl...
dumb about life,
stumbling lamely toward old age.
I walk in the mountains. I look at rocks and trees
until I am rocks and trees.

I loved you. I know you loved me.
And all those things I didn't say,
I am saying them now.

2007 Kyle Anne Bates

Note about this poem: Kyle Anne Bates was a student of Richard E. Lee's at CSULB. On February 25, 2007, she writes in an e-mail: "I think of him so often. Everything I know about writing I learned from him. A lot of the good information I have about life I learned from him. I was lucky to know him."