Foot Soldier: A Poem
Fog wraps the redwoods.
I breathe it in, choke,
pull a soft cloche over my ears,
penetrate drenched paths
Birds are silent,
tree squirrels shelter,
I run from your comfort
that begins and ends in a dream.
Let the jagged night hold me,
white mist tear my heart;
I shiver at the bus stop,
rude to the stranger at my side,
a blind stab in the dark.
My Thoughts about "Foot Soldier"
Love is a strange and powerful force. Learning to love unselfishly and maturely can take a lifetime. Sometimes people fail to learn this central lesson despite living long lives.
On the way to developing the capacity for unselfish, mature love, people struggle with all kinds of lesser love, including infatuation. Anyone who has loved in vain, or whose romantic love is (or seems to be) unrequited, might easily relate to this poem. I wrote it to express the intensity of feelings that seem to go unnoticed or perhaps are simply not returned--and the misery of the lover bearing those feelings. In the poem, being wrapped up in herself, the lover hides from the world, finally rebuking a total stranger rather than wishing him or her goodwill simply because of the lover's own internal pain.
I envisioned a kind of film noir setting, a woman striding through fog and rain-soaked trees, hat pulled low, not really seeing the night, which parallels her emotional confusion with its own dense fog.
Regarding the title, "Foot Soldier," the bewildered anger and hopelessness of the frustrated lover in the poem made me think of a soldier somehow keeping on despite the horror of the war he/she fights.
Enjoy Classic Literary Romance!
When one loves to distraction, but has few communication skills or relationship skills, one can easily fall into the trap of loving someone without really interacting with the beloved. For example, in an infatuation or a crush, one falls in love with someone, but usually knows little about that person and usually has very little relationship with that person. Knowing someone well as a person, it's more rare to be infatuated with that person since one knows good and bad aspects, daily habits, and small human traits, both appealing and unappealing, that make the beloved unique. Of course, knowing the beloved that well and still loving him/her is desirable and closer to mature love.
The problem with infatuation is that there is very little true relationship or give and take. Thus, as in this poem, the relationship is more a dream or fantasy, which does not (or has not yet) played out in reality. Often that fantasy is not even shared by the beloved. Infatuation occurs in diverse types of people, from the simply shy or inexperienced to those with self esteem issues to people with actual psychological issues. Even if both partners care about each other, without opening up to each other and committing to a non-fantasy relationship, love is thwarted and misunderstandings and hurt often abound.
Communicating openly and treating each other with complete respect and regard as well as commitment must be part of a love relationship. Without those qualities in both parties, it's all too easy to develop miserable scenarios like that in "Foot Soldier."