The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
A few months ago, I submitted a poem I wrote to the JMU homecoming poetry contest.
What happens to your body when you’re not with the one you call home
Where is the sunrise and kiss-filled bliss,
The muscular tubes of our bodies pretzeled?
My fingertips buzz, unable to dance little flowers on your spine.
My skin has become a timeless tundra,
As I long to feel warm breath circling on my neck.
My voice wavers, unsteady without your ears to travel through.
My legs ache with the want to walk to you
and the corner of my lips point downwards as if
To apologize to my heart.
I submitted at the last minute and had no hopes of being accepted. If you were accepted in this contest, you would get to read your poem out loud and talk about your process at a virtual poetry event. A few weeks later, I got the email that I had been accepted out of the 80 applicants. They chose seven poems out of the student, faculty, and alumni submissions. A few weeks after that, I went to the virtual poetry reading. It was an incredible experience to read my poem in front of 50 alumni, students, and professors (especially, a favorite poetry teacher of mine), as well as my then boyfriend (whom the poem was about) and my family. I left that feeling like I was floating from the thrill. A few months later, I received a text from my mom, “You’re Published!” She sent a photograph of my poem in the Madison Magazine. It was one of two other poems selected to be published from the contest. I had no idea I was going to be published in the magazine and I was ecstatic.
Next thing I knew, I received an email from an administrator from Madison Magazine. She wanted to let me know that a woman called in to the magazine, specifically about my poem, and wanted to write me a personal note. The woman also left her phone number for if I wanted to call her. So, later that day I dialed the number and took a chance. I was nervous, but when she answered the phone and immediately told me she loved my poem, my nerves turned to excitement. She said, “I thought your poem was timeless and I am 83. It is how I imagine feeling when I lose my loved one. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem.” I teared up at her sweet words and proceeded to thank her. We talked about my process for the poem a little bit and how I wrote it during quarantine when I couldn’t see my boyfriend for months. It was how I felt every day as I missed him and I had to write it down on paper.
After that, she began telling me about how she went to JMU in the 50s and 60s. She told me what it was like for her and her friends. She said that her and her roommate went on a hike with some boys who had to fill a Physical Education requirement by leading a hike. They went all the way to the top of a mountain and she said she was one of the few people who probably ever saw the natural beauty of that part of Harrisonburg, before it was turned into 81 and later east campus. She told me what JMU meant to her and how much she loved it too. She asked me a lot of questions about what JMU is like now and I shared as much as I could with her. She told me she has a grandson who goes to University of California San Diego and I have an Uncle who is a professor there. What a small world.
Soon, our conversation began to lull and she asked me if she could send me a personal note to have to go with my poem so I would know how much of an impact it had on her. I agreed and I look forward to receiving her letter. I hope to stay in touch with her after I receive it. I will never be able to thank her enough for reaching out to me. It meant the world to know that a poem that means so much to me, also means so much to her and potentially other people. It keeps me inspired to write and is the reason I will continue to share my poetry.