Each year as spring approaches, I think back to my years teaching high school English in the late eighties through mid-nineties. During the third or fourth quarter, poetry was an important unit of study, but inevitably many in the class would groan when I introduced it (English teachers know exactly the sound and shifting of chairs and feet that takes place when poetry is introduced). There was one poem I had read years earlier in a book by Leo Buscaglia and each year I would read it aloud to my students. I share it here.
I hope you find this simple poem as touching as I have all these years, and that you get goosebumps the first time you read it.
Things You Didn’t Do
Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car and I dented it?I thought you’d kill me, but you didn’t.
And remember the time I dragged you to the beach, and you said it would rain, and it did?I thought you’d say, “I told you so.” But you didn’t.
Do you remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous, and you were?I thought you’d leave me, but you didn’t.
Do you remember the time I spilled strawberry pie all over your car rug?I thought you’d hit me, but you didn’t.
And remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was formal and you showed up in jeans?I thought you’d drop me, but you didn’t.
Yes, there were lots of things you didn’t do,
But you put up with me, and you loved me, and you protected me.
There were lots of things I wanted to make up to you when you returned from Vietnam.
But you didn’t.