On Friendship

Having in last issue’s poetry page On Boundaries explored divisions between people, here we celebrate how the English language can help people through loneliness and isolation to friendship. In ‘Find a Friend in English’, Shizhou Yang writes of how as a second language English helped a child bloom in a way not possible in the first, while in ‘I am not a thief’ Jennifer Bell shows how it facilitated a friendship between strangers even after, or perhaps because of, the most unlikely of opening gambits.


Find a Friend in English

I was an awkward child at school – 
for I could not speak Mandarin;
at home, I seldom spoke –
for a kid was to be seen not heard.

So I withered like a winter grass
until English,
whispered in me,
my blades and bitter root,  
a message of eternal love.


‘I am not a thief.’

I followed my dream alone to classrooms in Peru
Full of energetic students learning EFL.
I was living my dream
But I was alone.

I lived in a house where no English was spoken
Where my literary Spanish had to carry me through.
I longed to explore the city, but I was again told ‘next weekend’
Until I realized ‘next weekend’ was just like ‘tomorrow.’
So I braved the streets of Lima, alone.

Alone I went exploring
Until in the center of Lima
A stranger came up to me and said,
‘Wait — I am not a thief.’
I listened to him talk, and we became friends.

Together we explored the catacombs under the ground
And the highest point in Lima for a spectacular view.
We traveled, took a boat, 
Visited museums, danced with friends
And I was no longer alone.
No longer alone

Because I’d found a friend
Who taught me the city. 
And he was not a thief.


For more poetry here in the 2017 Vol. II issue of The Font, see the pages On Inspiration and On Sunday School (1).