For the last several months or so, several poems have been stuck in my head like songs. I can't really say that this has happened to me before. I much prefer the sheer expanse of a book. Somehow poetry always seemed too... bare. I dissected them, just like any other Humanities student, and moved on with my life. Some were meaningful, yes, but they simply weren't the type of things that I brooded over. Then I heard "Having a Coke with You" by Frank O'Hara.
Where I heard the poem is irrelevant. It may have been read in a movie geared toward teenagers that I may have forced several friends to watch with me once. Hypothetically. I have no comment about that point in my life. Regardless, the poem reads:
Having a Coke with You
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles
and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it
This poem reminds me of so many beautiful moments in my life. While I never remember the exact words of those memories, I'll always remember the smells. Starbucks and hot peppermint tea. A few images surface: tracing my finger around the rim of my hot chocolate while I tried to impress a high school date; watching Kristen never fully finish her tea because she was telling me about her European adventures; sitting in a cold English kitchen with a cup of peppermint tea, laughing over jokes with Kris; and shaking with Rachel as we drank our way through 6 packets of hot chocolate.
Somehow this poem encapsulates all of those memories. It captures those beautiful moments where you just babble on like a fool because there is so much you wish you could say to this person. Most of all, it tells of the moments when you just sit and smile at the person across the table from you. Knowing that somehow being "here"? It is somehow more beautiful than Scotland, England, Wales, Paris, and Chicago.
Because I am with you.