I still can see him standing there
In his best suit beside the door,
Waiting, as we set out for dinner.
The words that he was hoping for:
‘Won’t you come too?’ - they were not said.
Why? Thoughtlessness, a want of love,
Though love was all we talked about.
He stayed a moment, then his air
Of being bored, indifferent, broke.
Smart tie, blue eyes, his brilliant hair,
Somehow for once they would not work;
And we were going off without
Him, though he was our friend - the one
I teased because of his good looks.
He turned, and as he did so, I,
Who wrote of love in poetry books,
Astounded, saw him start to cry,
And knew at once what I had done.
I asked him then to come, but no,
He was not wanted, would not have
What he had longed for at the price
Of pity, and he stayed behind.
So we went off to some dark bar
And left him to his tearful choice,
Neglected, by himself.
Can look for legends in the past
And gloss them so that everything
Appears to shine, but though I cast
This way and that I cannot miss
Him there, his blue eyes filled with tears.
O God, if I had asked him right
Away, the moment I had seen
Him all dressed up, his yellow hair
So smoothly combed, his tie so tight.
If in that second I had been
His friend and said: ‘Won't you come too?’
Or if I had to be so grand,
Then, when he cried, why was my arm
Not there around his shoulder? And
Why was not kindness used? Oh, you
Who read this, know that nothing hurts
You later like the love you did not show.
Always for me he seems to stand
By that sad door, and I must know
Always what happens to hard hearts
When God allows remembered tears
To beat them down in after years
And bring their self-love low.