I was in high school and half in love with a boy from Texas. I was only half in love with him because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do with boys. Well, he was awfully cute. And I was 13 years old and full of hormones. Like me, he was a child of hippies. Unlike me, he was unabashed about it.
He pulled a slim volume from his locker — the locker so close to that other boy who got me into so much trouble. It had a yellow spine and a black-and-white photograph of a girl perched on top of a pile of rubble. It was called The Pill Versus the Springhill Mining Disaster, by Richard Brautigan.
“He’s a minor LSD poet from San Francisco,” he told me. “I thought you might like it.”
Even then, I was known for liking and writing poetry.
It was the first book of poetry anyone ever gave to me like that: spontaneous, easy. With the perspective of time, I can see that maybe he was as half in love with me as I was with him. We ended up embarking on a relationship far more intimate and complex than anything you’d see on Glee. It’s hard to say who broke my harder: him or the other boy I loved at the same time, in a more carnal, conventional manner.
But that’s a story for another time. Right now what I want to think about is that moment when he handed me this slim volume, the same one that sits on my desk beside me now, a little time traveler through the decades.
And the wonder of discovery when I first saw a poem like this in print:
The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster
When you take your pill
it’s like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
lost inside of you.