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Diana van den Berg

(4 November 1945 / Durban, South Africa)

A Friend For All Seasons

I want to be your rock,
your rock that doesn’t change,
your sun-baked rock,
your ergonomically-designed, sun-baked rock,
that cradles the contours of your back
and warms you from the outside
as you sit on the beach and lean against me and dream.

I want to be the yielding golden beach sand that you sit on
and I want you to press the backs of your legs into
this warm sand that is me, as you lean against me, your rock,
your rock that doesn’t change.

I want to be the breeze that cools your brow
and the waves that revive you
when the sun tries to melt you and fry you.

When you are drenched by rain
and frozen by wind
and abandoned on a stormy night,
I want to be your hot bath
that warms you from the outside
and relaxes each
and then
your mind
and then

I want to be the sherry that warms your throat,
and spreads in waves to the tips of your
and the tips of your toes,
from the inside,
and eases the edges of your hurt.

I want to be the one you phone
at three o’clock
in the morning
especially when you know I am asleep,
when you dare not phone anyone else,
knowing that I will be glad and honoured
to be chosen
to listen to your pain
and soothe your spirit
and lift it from the depths,
high up over the telephone wires,
until perhaps inwardly you smile or even laugh,
- your rock,
your rock that doesn’t change.

I want to be the one
you phone to take you home from some sleazy bar
when you’ve had too much to drink
and are barely coherent and very rude to me
but know I wouldn’t want you to drive.
I wish I could shield you from all pain,
but I know I can’t, and
yes, a real friend may be sick in my car.

I want to be the music that pervades your soul,
and carries you above the clouds and over the sea
when nothing else can.
I want to be the poem that releases the tears
and, with a word, alleviates your mood, a little.

I want to be the Boomer
that licks your hand
when I don’t understand
why you are sad.

I want to be the distant star that guides you
to your dream,
your dream that chooses you unconditionally,
that loves you unconditionally,
that brings you happiness,
within, without,
around, over and under you,
in abundance,
and without hurt,
the happiness your vibrant soul deserves
no matter what anyone says or thinks.

I want to be sure of
a gilt-edged invitation
even though you know that
I will cry at your wedding
(I always cry at weddings)
and I want you to know Now,
because you won’t remember Then,
that, as you take your wedding vows
and always,
I really want your happiness
to be deep
and to last

I want to be one
on whom, when you are living your new happiness,
you can think back, now and then,
with friendly warmth
and know that
all was well
with our friendship
and though it comforted us both,
it was just a dream
and in the past
as it should be
and that when it really mattered
I was a friend for all seasons.

(7 November 1998)

Submitted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Edited: Friday, August 16, 2013

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