Stars, by Emily Winslow

I write about my sweetheart a lot, and also my boys. I love them to pieces. But I fear I’m a bit of a broken record on those subjects, so I challenged myself to choose a different subject for this week’s subject of “Love,” and the implication it carries, on February 14th, of romantic love in particular.

A long time ago, in college, I was madly in love with a friend. It never worked out, and if it had I’m pretty sure it would have been angst-filled and argumentative, but there it was. I was desperate for him.

From this perspective, it’s hard to call it unrequited “love,” because I think now that love is the kind of thing that grows from being together, not just a wish to get together. But never mind the semantics–love, crush, infatuation. I was in over my head.

The wanting-and-not-having was painful, but it was also a blessed relief. My college years at a conservatory were a huge challange. I was overworked, emotionally stretched, and dealing with serious disruption in my life outside of school. Wanting someone was distracting, and hopeful, and life-affirming, even when not having him hurt terribly.

This is what I felt, and wrote, 18 years ago:


Someone told me I’m beautiful today
It wasn’t you
If you said that…
well, you’re so close to my heart
that just the breath of your words would warm me
But it was someone else
He’s somebody’s sun
but to me he’s a distant dot of light
without temperature
Bright, yes
at least my chattering teeth can smile at the bright

I don’t expect
‘I love you’
from me
is going to warm you any
And you can’t see stars
when the sun’s up
But if your sun goes out
here’s something to see
Here are some stars
They won’t keep you warm
but they’re something

I’m not who you want
but however far I may be from your desires
I am in my own place
a sun
Please be at least flattered
by this fire loving you
Though I may seem to you smaller than a penny
and common in the pin-dot sky
I am a fire
and I do love you

7 Replies to “Stars, by Emily Winslow”

  1. It’s funny how a painful, youthful infatuation like that can keep you going and give you hope, even when part of you knows it’s silly and crazy and pointless and even torturous. I think your poem expressed that. You were wise even then!

    And I don’t think you’re a broken record on the subjects of husband and boys! Not at all.

  2. Really beautiful Emily. Unanswered love is it’s own hell but I hope it shapes us (if it doesn’t kill us).
    Your words brought back some very powerful memories. Thanks so much (I think).
    Your fan,

  3. Emily, I can’t help asking: Did you ever give him this poem? And are you friends now?
    It’s funny how the gift of time lets us see how lucky we were when the wrong ones got away… painful as it felt back then.

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