Happy Birthday to Suzanne Gelber Rinaldo

Suzy and I met as freshmen at Grinnell College in Iowa.  She was from a suburb of Cleveland and I from a farm in Northwest Missouri.  We decided we wanted to be roommates the following year.  We remain friends still after all these years even though we usually live far apart except for a brief time when we both lived in Rhode Island.  She married David Rinaldo, who attended Grinnell with us.  At least once a year one of us goes to see the other.  We seem able to pick up conversations as if we had just talked a few hours before.  Last year my daughter, grandson, and I drove to California and spent five days with them.  This year they will come to see me.  We remain the perfect example of that trite phrase, best friends forever, BFF.  On the left side of my fireplace a tiny painting she gave me when we were in college still hangs.  I wrote this poem about it last year.


The Gift


On the wall for forty years,

a copy of some famous painting:

almost everything a strange dark

shade of blue, a blue not quite

blue, the merest hint of green,

antique cupboard, curved table

base, ladder back chair, window

frame, even the tree outside.


The only exceptions:

white table cloth,

newspaper in the lady’s hands,

her pale pink floral dress with tiny

darker pink flowers,

large copper antique teapot

in the cupboard, the black and copper

pots on top.  Her teacup, saucer, plate

of toast, white and blue, an old Danish pattern.


I’ve kept the gift,

hung on too many walls to count.

My college roommate, the giver, said,

This reminds me of you.

I look at it, all these years

have wondered why.

We’re still friends.

I’ve never asked.



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