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Jemima and Hazel go to the end of year party.
I couldn't be happier."
I looked over at his notebook next to the lamp on the small table. "I saw you writing today, you looked so engrossed, like nothing else existed, what were you writing?"
He chuckled and glanced over at the notebook then back at me. "I was working on a new poem. I'll read you a few lines--not the whole poem--I'm still working on it but I'd like you to hear it--thanks for asking," he said, smiling at me then went over to the table, picked up the notebook and came back to the table and sat down, turning the pages, looking for the lines he wanted to read, adjusted his glasses, tugged at his beard.
"Okay here goes. This poem is called, "Following Dawn" and I'm imagining I am above the world following the morning rising and moving across the world and I'm looking down." He looked into my eyes, cleared his voice and read slowly and there was something in his voice that was different, as if he went into a trance. I can't remember all the words but it was like music and even after all of these years, I still remember these lines, "and I want my words soaring through the sky to touch the hearts below me, praying I can love myself enough to love the ugly, the evil, the killers, the vultures and with my words wake the innocence they were born with, the goodness they've forgotten."
He looked up at me after reading those lines and closed his eyes as if holding back tears and I felt like I was going to cry. He was reading with so much feeling, the words pouring out of him.
He took a deep breath, looking back at the page and continued. "I want my final words to heal their hearts and bring smiles and happy tears believing, perhaps foolishly, my final words can change the weather of our world."
I couldn't take my eyes off of him as he read, thinking about his voice and these words I have never forgotten, "Oh, if only I could say these final words, be heard and leave behind one song that makes a difference, I'd gladly leave the dawn to others."
He took a deep breath when he finished, closed his notebook and looked away then took another deep breath and smiled at me. "It still needs work but that's what I was writing this afternoon."
"Wow that was amazing. You're really good and I love how you read the poem. I had tears listening to you."
"I'll give you a copy of it when it's finished, if you'd like," he said.
"I would. I really would. Thank you," I said, realizing we read poetry in school but I never heard anything like that. I was floored.
"Thank you for bringing the lasagna and surprising me. This has been nice," he said.
"Thanks for the salad," I said, feeling it was time to go but not really wanting to. "I better get going," I said, standing up, reaching for the empty plates.
"Leave them," he said. "I'll bring them over in the morning."
He walked me to the door and just before I left, he kissed me on the forehead and said, "Goodnight and thank you."
I was overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings when I went home--surprised how Tollie had touched something in me, I didn't know existed. I was intrigued, fascinated and amazed to suddenly discover this man who had been living a hundred feet from me for two years in our carriage house and who I hardly paid attention to and thought was weird. I went to the window and saw him sitting in his chair reading and wondered if I could ever be alone and content.
I slept in that next morning and didn't wake up until eleven.