The Stranger

More than twenty years ago (gasp) one of my poems was published in my high school magazine. The poem was called The Stranger. It’s a seventeen year old’s poem, with all the associated romance and rawness of that age. It was written for a friend of mine who had anorexia. Amanda was very ill and heartbreakingly sad, funny and difficult and dear to me.

Today I received an email from another woman, Nina. Nina’s a decade older than I am. Her mother worked at my school and Nina read my poem way back when it was published. She created a piece of calligraphy using it and has kept it with her as the poem meant something to her over the years. She wants to give me the piece of calligraphy. I am very touched.

I wish I could find Amanda again. I have tried to trace her but her name is a name many people have so I haven’t found her. She was that kind of extraordinary person who lifted things to the next level. Those quick, mobile, thinking people with wary eyes and clever, kind laughter. She was also so secretive and hurting. We went and saw Chess: The Musical together and felt the power of “Nobody’s on nobody’s side”. Those teenaged aches are the hugest.

But right now it’s delightful to be reminded that I have wanted to have a voice for a very long time. And, more and more, I do have one.

– Pene

Nina attached this Munch lithograph, titled the sick child.


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