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Poetry Moment: 'Dear Friend Since Childhood' by Hayden Saunier

Poet Hayden Saunier
Poet Hayden Saunier

Poetry Moment on WPSU is a program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Host Todd Davis is a professor of English and Environmental Studies at Penn State Altoona.

This episode’s poem is “Dear Friend Since Childhood” by Hayden Saunier.

Hayden Saunier is the author of five poetry collections, most recently A Cartography of Home and How to Wear This Body. Her work has been awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize, the Rattle Poetry Prize, the Gell Poetry Award, and the Keystone Award. An actor as well as a writer, Hayden is founder and director of No River Twice, an improvised, interactive, audience-driven poetry reading. She grew up in piedmont Virginia and now lives between a sugar maple and a sycamore above a creek in eastern Pennsylvania.

Friendship occurs in many forms over a lifetime, and some of us have friends who remember us from our earliest years of childhood. In today’s poem, the poet sets a scene to take her back to a place where a friendship was shared in a small creek, resurrecting youthful mothers who watch over these two childhood friends as they play in the water, building an earthen dam, that when burst, allows the water’s currents to carry them downstream into another life that awaits them.

Here's —

Dear Friend Since Childhood

Let’s set the scene
            one hour before sunset
                        memory’s golden hour
            light shot across the field
bright haze of pollen
            gleaming insects, swallows
                        dropping in and out of sky
            above the pasture’s
twenty-seven different shades
            of iridescent green
                        we counted once—
            we counted everything—
let’s spread those blankets out
            across tall grasses
                        where our mothers sit
            barelegged, straight-backed,
impossibly young,
            peeling waxy opaque paper
                        from chicken salad sandwiches,
            or shelling hard-boiled eggs
with oval fingernails,
            their beautiful hands,
                        so fluid and cool— offering
            each other coffee from
a Scotch plaid thermos.
            Quick, dam up the creek bed,
                        make a shallow pool
            the way we used to do
and lie back in the water
            kick hard against the dam
                        of earth and stone
            one kick was all it ever took—
and then let’s try to love
            the way the current tries
                        to carry us away.


That was “Dear Friend Since Childhood” by Hayden Saunier.

This is host Todd Davis' final episode as host of Poetry Moment. He hopes the poems over this past year have carried you into new worlds.

Thank you for having shared so many moments of poetry with Poetry Moment this year.

Hear more episodes of Poetry Moment at

Music by Eric Ian Farmer.

Todd Davis is the 2022-23 host of "Poetry Moment" on WPSU.