Valentine’s Day – Guest Blog by Robbi Nester and More!

It’s Valentine’s Day and that got me reminiscing about Valentine’s Days long past. See this Huff Post blog for an interesting piece on how incredibly stupidly I handled my first Valentine opportunity. Maturity sure helps in matters of the heart and love.

While growing up on Stirling Street in Philadelphia, my neighbor Robbi Nester, a brilliant poet as an adult, loved reading as much as me. We both chose to express our thoughts past and present through the written word. Maybe it was a coincidence, but there was a library right on the same street we both grew up on, and we both were frequent visitors.

I am absolutely thrilled to have her guest blog on my Hot Flashes blog with her poem on Valentine’s Day which was first published in the February edition of the Verse-Virtual Poetry site. (Link here.) Immediately following is her commentary.

Valentine’s Day by Robbi Nester

February was a red month
when I was ten, though frost
patterned the pane
and heaps of dull grey
snow cluttered the walk.

For weeks, I’d gather up
my crimson forces—
construction paper,
doilies, red ribbons,
glitter, and the rest,
reflecting on the heart.

I knew the organ in my chest
looked nothing like the
rounded two-winged circles
I would cut with careful
scissors, though the real one
had its double-chambers too,
veins like ribbons, beating

a tattoo all day and night.
Was this knot of flesh really
home to the affections
or just a bit of meat
like the chicken hearts
I’d spoon from mother’s soup?

I struggled to imagine all the heat
the heart was fabled to inspire.
I loved my dog, my parents,
my best friend, afternoons
spent at the window, book open
on my lap. I even eyed the fellow
down the block, but couldn’t

fathom how that simple pump
could prime not just one
body, but all of life,
love, but also jealousy
and hate, because these feelings
could not be pried apart.

What did these paper stand-ins
really signify? Not much.
And yet, I hoped for one
from every kid in class.
At ten, Valentine’s a recess
for the heart—all the sweetness,
nothing of experience—the sting.

 

In my poem “Valentine’s Day” I reflected on the hopeful optimism of a child as viewed from the more nuanced perspective of an adult, who knows that those hopes are bound to be frustrated as often as realized, and has learned the hard way that the passions have a dark side as well as a bright one.

 I have seen Valentine’s Day from the sidelines, watching the boxes of more popular classmates fill to overflowing with cards and candy while mine remained half empty. The teacher would choose someone in the class to deliver the tributes, which had been dutifully deposited on her desk as the students filed in. That person would give a knowing glance as she made her rounds, passing me by again and again to load another box of message hearts, chocolate covered cherries, or glittery homemade cards into the overstuffed box of my nearby seatmate, who lowered her enormously long eyelashes in modesty, a sentiment ill-fitting the smug expression on the rest of her face. The boys in the room were always looking in her direction, waiting to see how she would regard their gifts and cards, but she looked only down or straight ahead. At the end of the day, I went home with a few boxes of message hearts and some premade cards, a respectable haul, but hardly anything to boast about. My mother would shake her head and say that every student in the class should have been required to give everyone something, but this ideal fairness has never, in my experience, been realized.

 Later, I came to see the holiday from a different perspective when I took center stage as someone’s Valentine. Though I was not by then expecting a number of tributes, I still unaccountably met the day with a hopeful burst of feeling, the dream that maybe today, things would be different, and the personal affection to which this day was devoted would be distributed in a more general way to everyone in the world. Like my mother, I had embraced the utopian desire for a lovefest, a hope that on this one day at least, people would be able to embrace each other for once and recognize their commonalities, and everyone in the room would be recognized and acknowledged.

 I still find myself hoping. Even if those early Valentine’s Days frequently brought disappointment, the widespread sentiment of hope, love, and compassion is one we should still all emulate, especially in a world ruled by fear and suspicion.  So what if it takes a commercially constructed holiday, cooked up by florists, candy makers, and the purveyors of greeting cards to inspire such generosity? I still embrace the impulse. Robbi Nester

 

One comment

  • So beautiful and well said by my childhood friend!! I taste the sadness of your message, but to let you know as my childhood friend you were loved then and now!!! Your the best Robbie❤❤️❤❤️❤️

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