“when you are far away”

When you are far away, and thinking of the slow memories
Of falling leaves, and the measured
Swirl of ball gowns in mid-November;

Of candles silenced by gentle movements,
And the quiet moments that fit in the interstices of stolen glances,
and of our subtle flirtations;

Take down those sincere words,
and know that love was the tinted glass behind which we existed,
And all was but a habit –
Of untethered individuals.

I wrote “When you are far away” as I was reflecting on what a budding spring love that faded in autumn might feel like, of two friends who weren’t sure of themselves as anything more than ordinary people or even strangers. It’s centered on a mid-college turmoil in which I found friends who were finding others as they were finding themselves: a moment of identity evolution collectively experienced, individually felt. I was inspired by the form and tone of “When You Are Old” by W.B. Yeats, and full disclosure, a Taylor Swift song. 

[Published the Mayo Clinic’s “The Tempest” (May 2019)]

Amal Cheema
November 2014

Image credit: Jessica Shin


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