101 Miles: A Poem for Kate

A student once asked me:

“People say you know when you know.

So: How do you know?”

I don’t know.


I just know that

There are 101 miles

Between Union Station in Worcester, Massachusetts

And Union Station in New Haven, Connecticut


I know that

The first class

In a course of study

Is labeled 101


I know that

My voice was so shaky on our first real date

I opted not to speak much

And listen


The result?

You bought me a sandwich.

With too much red onion.

Bold, for a first date.


But the second we stepped out onto the cobblestone street

I knew we could spend years that way

Giving of ourselves to sustain the other

Not because we need it

But because we can.


I know that I spent the summers before you

Driving down Highway 101

And that your favorite Ben Rector song

Says that it’s just minutes and highways

‘Til the one I love


I know that I wore a Red Sox hat the day of our first kiss

At a bus station

Navy blue bill meeting your Yankee forehead

It seems I’m always getting in my own way


I know that the Dunkin Donuts at Union Station

New Haven

Serves the



Cup of coffee

In America.


But I bought it anyway

Every time.

To hold the warmth of a city 101 miles away

In my hands

For as long as I could.


I know that I remember the day one of my friends said

I think they found the gay gene

As in

Thank God, there’s an explanation for this.


As in

101 miles isn’t enough.


I remember the first time

That I knew that I knew

That women were beautiful

Altar girl. Scripture reader.

Feeling 101

Enrobed in cotton, white, thou shalt not.


I know that I had butterflies every day

For the first year

And that my eyes watered

Next to the water

Where New Haven’s busses pull in


I know that the you I will soon leave for New Haven in the mornings

Is the you that always waited for me

At the New Haven station


And I know that those 101 miles

Are beginning to feel like

Our beginning

Beginning again.


Photo courtesy of Drew Makepeace, Flickr Creative Commons


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