My Dearest Clementine

My Dearest Clementine!

I’m convinced little birds help you dress every morning!

You’re a tall sunflower with petals bright and soft.

Your cheeks are dappled with tawny freckles

like cookie crumbs you can’t smudge off!

Your strong broad shoulders are a source of insecurity,

I know you wish you were more graceful;

more delicate, lissome, more womanly,

but I’m here to tell you to be more faithful!


I wrote this to confess just how much I care.

You see, I’m convinced you’ve given me Cardiomegaly;

my heart is enlarged and I don’t care to go back

to when my heart would beat oh so slow and so steadily!

You are the most bewitching of witches,

as I’m also convinced you’ve slipped me a potion!

But enough of that Cosby nonsense my dear!

I want to reminisce on our story which begins by the ocean….


We were young on the Oregon oceanside,

underneath a Sycamore in deepest June.

We were playing near our neighboring homes

and refused to return ‘til we saw the bright moon.

On the first of our playdates you told me a secret,

you wanted only two things in this world:

to become a Conchologist and study shiny shells.

But above all show everyone you were really a girl!

I crossed my heart swiftly and hoped to die,

in return you gave me a Conch filled with our sea’s soft singing.

You gave me a kiss, an affection-filled smile, and fled.

All the way home my cheeks burned, my ears were ringing!


Aggie, Donna, Katie, Tracie,

Trixie, Vicki, Nikki, Rue,

Male, Boy, Man, Dude-

None of them were truly you.

Though they were all better than before:

Jim, Jimmy, Jamie, James….

All these variations checked off

on your long list of dead names.

Until the day we found her as I crooned an old tune,

“In a cavern, ‘cross a canyon...”, your cheeks stained incarnadine.

From then on we introduced you to my family as

My Dearest Clementine!


Times were tough, confusing, daunting.

Sisters and Brothers across state borders gave relief

and gave advice about dysphoria, makeup, and estrogen.

We held hands through it all, but yours wavered with ‘belief’.

Some were unsupportive, though at least non-violent,

your family was a tad surprised but still kind.

But I could tell your faith was in question,

God had become a source of fear and sorrow in your mind.


My Dearest Clementine,

If in this world there are no mistakes,

only miracles and gifts, evil and damnation;

Then I can say with no qualms at all

that those who hate should not halt your elation.

You still pray and are so loyal to the lord,

so it pains me when you waver and I see your face fall.

I can say for certain those who abuse are not gifts,

because I know where to find the best one of them all.


Through the years we’ve grown together,

through School and Work, Right or Wrong, Gold and Blue.

My life is so much more fulfilled

now that I’ve had the honor of loving you.

My gift is named sweet Clementine

and she is as smart as can be.

With strong form for a girl yet still dainty.

Generous, with warm bronze eyes as deep as our sea.

I adore you more every moment.

I listen to my shell to soothe any ache,

to keep you close in my chest, in my soul,

your ocean’s waves nurse the most brutal heartbreak.


Because I remember the night my conch stopped singing.

I dream of it often, it's always far too long;

you come home and hum our song as you walk by me,

I know that tune, the lyrics, but can never sing along.

A drunk driver hydroplaned and t-boned your car.

A drunk driver shattered the delicate spine

of my gentle, dulcet, dewdrop, of

My Dearest Clementine.


Though your footprints have been erased by the tide,

I still visit every June, under our Sycamore by the sea.

With the juniper trees and the gentle sea breeze.

Where we can be alone, just your somber stone and me.

I’ve made peace with your passing, your parents, your god;

I need you to know I’ve made peace with it all.

Now I don’t feel so alone as I sit by myself

and enjoy the birds blue madrigals.


And when I place your conch to my ear

I no longer hear the sea;

but the steady thrum of your heart in my drum

to remember you’re always with me.

And no matter what they call you,

I am still yours as you are mine;

no matter what anyone tells the world,

you will always be

My Dearest Clementine.


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