Category Archives: loving

What remains…

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some things are smashed beyond recall
some truths can no longer be spoken
the path between us, like a wailing wall,

littered with fragments of two hearts, broken
so that with any step closer, a fragment is crushed
a soul is seared to feel old wounds reopen

how sudden were the days that rushed
us headlong to this wounded end
all our sweet harmony so rudely hushed

I know what you want, but will not pretend
can’t protect myself without causing you pain
only walk away from what I cannot mend

how beautiful our world when love reigned
how bright those days before our fall
but now, ah, see what remains!

Sometimes prompts and events come together. Today I received an e-mail from my ex – I hadn’t expected to hear from him again, and sadly everything he said brought home to me how badly our communication is broken, and how much pain he is in right now. And with this in my mind I came across a  visual prompt on poefusion called “stages of grief”. Touching off words that slipped naturally into a terza rima structure. And all the time, echoing in my mind, the melancholy passion of a tango:

Hoy vas a entrar en mi pasado,
en el pasado de mi vida.
Tres cosas lleva mi alma herida:
Amor, Pesar, Dolor.
Hoy vas a entrar en mi pasado,
hoy nuevas sendas tomaremos.
Que grande ha sido nuestro amor
y, sin embargo, ay,
mira lo que quedo!

Today you will become part of my past
the past of my life
There are three things in my wounded soul –
love, regret, and pain
Today you will become part of my past
Today we will take new paths
How great our love once was
And yet, ay!, see what is left of it!

~Los Mareados, lyrics by Juan Carlos Cobian, my own translation

I knew instantly…

I’ve been having a lot of first dates lately, and I’ve been reflecting on something I read a while ago. I can’t remember the source or details, but the idea is that on a first date with someone we pick up on the thing – a character trait, a belief – that is likely to end the relationship.

But in the haze of excitement and hormones we willingly or blindly choose to ignore this. And if people get past the first date, this thing becomes less and less obvious as they fall in love , until it resurfaces and finally becomes too significant to be ignored any longer.

I don’t know how true this is in general, but remembering my first date with my ex I can pick up on two things at least that, with hindsight, could have alerted me to the subsequent problems. He mentioned his firm belief in birth horoscopes as predictors of personality – which I absolutely don’t believe in. And he exhibited a rather hyper-intense manner which he attributed to an “energy healing” he’d just had. At the time these things (particularly the hyperness) did make me wonder if I wanted to go on to a second date with him. But in the end I decided that these weren’t significant enough problems, and that they were outweighed by our quite striking compatibility in other areas.

And yet in the end, if I had to pick out the things that brought our relationship to its messy and painful end, I can see how there were signs of them in that first meeting. The instability. The overly confident belief in things for which he had no evidence. And the disruption to his personality brought about by his work with the energy healer and the organisation she belonged to.

Would it have been better if I had picked up on the warning signs and ended the relationship after the first date?

In the end, I think it was right to go ahead with the relationship. Because in doing so I learnt so much more about myself and where my boundaries lay. I went into that relationship with a lot of unresolved issues about what I believed – with both an attraction to and a repulsion from beliefs in things beyond the natural and evidence-based. And came out with a much clearer idea of what I am willing to accept as evidence, and the dangers of believing things without solid evidence.

It can seems strange that we tend to find relationships that teach us what we need to learn. But I don’t think it’s anything supernatural. Simply that, once we’ve thoroughly absorbed the lesson, we avoid getting into similar situations again. I think the uncertainty I felt about these things was the reason I didn’t see the danger signs. Now that I know more about myself, I think they would stand out as red flags.

I think one of the reasons why I’ve spent so much time single is that I’m quite good at picking up what will not work. And because I’m quite happy single I’d generally rather be in no relationship than in one I suspect won’t work. Perhaps I close things off too quickly, ending things that might work if given a chance. But I think I’d rather have a seemingly endless series of first dates with my eyes open than rush blindly into relationships.

Because once that dazzling cloud of hormones that we call romantic love descends on a relationship, it’s virtually impossible to see the partner with clear eyes. So much as I yearn to ride that rose-spectacled rollercoaster again and allow it to bind me closely to another person, I want to take a really good look at them first. To spot problems before I am blinded to them.

I know in the short term that will bring me lots of frustration. There’s always a sadness in realising that your search for a compatible partner has found another blind alley. But I hope it will, in the long run, save me heartbreak.

If what you’ve found is genuinely a blind alley, keeping trying to walk down it is only going to hurt you. And waste time and energy that could be spent looking for a better path.

(this post was set in motion by a prompt on “Sunday Scribblings” entitled “I knew instantly….”)

Ocean

When I watch myself reflected in your eyes
Why do I see an ocean, surging deep?

What is it that makes you fear to set sail?
My waters run deep – but they are not cruel.
I caress many shores – yet endlessly return
with the constant loyalty of the tides.

I am no foam-born goddess. Just a woman
who knows her light too well to hide in fear
The wave-glitter is not a stabbing searchlight
Just my mind’s joy calling you to dance with me.

Meantime, my loneliness is oceans-wide
salty with my tears of longing for a man
who can surf the rip-curl of my beating heart
and come safe to the haven of my embrace.

Why do I see you staring like a grown man
clutching waterwings in a clammy hand?

 

The photo is Mermaid in the Ocean, originally uploaded by snuglyteaddybear2007.

The room in my heart

There was a room in my heart
its walls stained by the tides of tears
and the jagged graffiti of hurtful words
its floors sagging from old expectations
and cluttered with the lead-grey jetsam
of our broken hopes.

I spent a year cleaning the room in my heart
Scrubbing the walls with shredding tissues
soaked in the tears and snot brought up
from the deepest secrets of my heart.
Separating out what was mine to repair
from what was yours.

Now, outside the room in my heart
Sits a bag full of the clutter that you
left behind you, said you did not own.
If you dare to open the zip, you’ll see
the parting gifts that my hands have made
from our love’s flotsam.

Your private door to the room in my heart
has vanished forever. So you’ll have to imagine
how freshly the colours gleam. How the walls
(stripped back to stone and plastered anew)
are damp-proofed and caressed with sun.
But not for you.

For the room in my heart is at last swept clean.
And its new door is ready to open.

A few days ago I sent my last message in the recent e-mail exchange with my ex. Gently, and affectionately – but also firmly, having set my boundaries and said what I needed to say. Which actually was surprisingly little!

I’m now pretty sure that he won’t respond. Which is absolutely fine with me. There was very little chance we could regain anything meaningful. What I wanted was to express some things I had been unable to say at the time. And feel that I had brought the messiness of last year to an appropriate end. An end that is fitting for the spirit of the good times rather than fraught with the pain of the bad times.

For several hours after I sent the message I felt a deep sense of peace and joy. And this poem tries to capture some of that feeling.

And should we meet…

And should we meet as strangers, then?
Forgetting the painful past?
Extend our hands to shake again
Forgetting how they once clasped?

Should my healed heart make pretence
That it was never broken?
Should we ask the air to wrap in silence
The words we both heard spoken?

What future is there save one that’s built
On what has gone before?
Using the blood and tears we spilt
to make the foundation sure.
And if that idea makes your courage wilt
It’s best we should meet no more.

 

For Sunday Scribbling’s prompt of “stranger”.

Tigress

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If you walk at all, walk gently

For I am no longer the tigress
who surrendered with a growl of bliss
nor she who spilt her golden fur
to warm your careless feet
exposed her kitten belly
to your sharp-nailed attentions
and emphatically not she who slunk away
wearing your guilt as her own.

For now my eyes see through you
my claws know the savour of blood
and my purr has the edge of a growl.
Take a wrong step, and you’ll swiftly learn 
how poised I am – and how hungry
to taste the sweet wrath of justice.
And if I smile, you should never forget 
that my teeth gleam as bright as my eyes.

So walk gently – or don’t walk at all.

Sometimes an prompt coincides perfectly with what’s going on in your life. Which was exactly the case with the picture above, part of the Yorck Project’s collection. I came across the image at the Miss Rumphius Effect Poetry Stretch, with the challenge to write a poem inspired by it.

And on this occasion inspiration came rather easily, as it arrived not long after my ex got in touch with me after about a year’s silence…

Day and night

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Day

turquoise swishes across saffron
a sussurating oscillation
as we dig for starfish
crisp cotton melts and clings
to my zaftig ebullience
bladderwrack crackles underfoot
senses seasoned with salt and desire

Night

under the moonless sky the ocean
is starred with amethyst luminescence
meteors zoom past, illuminating
an ethereal path we could take
your fingers embrace mine with a tingle
like the sensuous fire of chillis
my body remembers resilience

After a month of being too busy to do much writing, I’m back with time to write again. So here’s a poem inspired by the latest ReadWritePoem prompt – based on the wordle cloud above.