The blank empty years stretch out before me. I don’t want to know a life without you.
There is only silence, and the space you used to fill with your laugh and your smooth and dancing hands, carving the air, holding my spirit as I held you.
I understand that there is color here somewhere, in this tangible dreary world; others have found it. Are finding it around me every day. And yet when I look all I see is an absence, stillness and entropy, and perhaps a faint curve of reality-time-space-paradox-flow following the path you took when you left me behind.
Somehow, somehow dear gods I am still alive.
So I will walk these weary steps remembering what a curse my love was – my love for you – and maybe, someday, I will at last conquer the secret art of an empty smile.
But you will not be there.
And every breath I take will draw in the emptiness, the singular point of your leaving, the dull conformity of lonely days – and its exhale will burn inside of me, scraping its way down my throat, leaving me ragged and dry.
Leaving me broken.
For the one who could fix me is gone, and if I pass you on the street unknowing I hope you will not wince, dear heart, at the tragedy of my countenance, the blankness of my face. There was no stopping the march of time. Remember me as I was: whole and dream-drunk and forgiving; young and brilliant and mad; living; vivid; yours.
I still go into your office, sometimes On a Tuesday or maybe a Thursday And sit in your leather chair, feeling the Warmth of it and the Certainty seeping up through my tendons and Into my blood.
There is an hourglass on the corner of your desk. I don’t know If you remember. But she got it for you At the World’s Fair, 1893 When she was still young and still madly in love. You used to turn it over in your callused hands As you explained to me how the world was Going to end.
There are stars on your ceiling and a train Running through the coffee table; We built it there when I was Six years old. Nowadays it runs Very slowly, not unlike the sand in the hourglass, Which runs sometimes up the sides in rivulets, And sometimes sideways, and sometimes Hangs suspended, heavy, cloudlike, But never straight down.
If time passes after you die, then You are dead. None of us will let that happen.
I am guarding the gate to the outside. She Will not let me step through it and See you, not even if I go So far back in the past that You will not know me. “Even godfathers die,” she tells me When I don’t ask. I never knew, before, that guardian angels Have an expiration date.
High school Creative Writing class, a time of ill-thought prompts, awkward read-alouds, questions about profanity, and, most relevantly, assignments that instruct students to invent their own rhyme schemes.
I am not the only love you’ve had but I pray that I may be the last. Sometimes I think I’m just going mad, facing down the demons of your past. Next to them I’m weak, pitiful and meek; I know not what I seek, but I hope to find it fast.
This is not the only fear I’ve faced; always I have thought that I was strong. This is not the only hope I’ve chased, but I’ve never held a hope so long. I think that you love me – I guess that soon we’ll see – but losing you would be the first time I was so wrong.
This will be the final choice we make and, no matter what, it is our fate. Now I see the road that we must take, praying that our love won’t turn to hate. I swear I’ll walk it too, providing that you do, and you know that it’s true – there’s no reason left to wait. So now, in order to restart my life anew, I’ll say that I love you – and just hope I’m not too late.
You’re going to read her like a book and her pages will be fragile in your hands. There will be no end and no beginning - only the cover, mystic and strange, and the text you manage to glimpse with your damned greedy eyes before she slams shut around you, a mouse trap of green and silver for a man of red and gold.
Too late you will see the warning written on her spine: I have been here before.
With the moon crumbling overhead, you will lay your torch down in silence and take your pilgrimage from the chamber, silence behind and silence before, and when you reach the grass outside the smooth white mausoleum you will lie down with her name on your lips, numb with the memory erased, offering up a last benediction.
This, too, was written long ago.
The white ash will fall on your eyelashes and you will speak no more.
Written for a picture challenge in a theatre class.
She lives by the sea.
She lives by the sea, and in the sea, and of the sea, and she can barely remember a time before the waves came to claim her as their own. She still has the dress she was wearing, white and ragged and worn, though now she walks about in fabrics pinned haphazardly around her slim figure, the hats of captains and the too-long trousers of sailors dead and gone. The dress she keeps in a chest at the foot of her bed at the bottom of the lighthouse tower. On days when she longs for a connection to that old Other Something she cannot describe, she takes it out and lays it across her lap; it has been yellowed by salt and time. So has she. Her skin is rough and colored by sun. Her hair has bleached near-white. She would no longer recognize herself ten years ago, the little girl pulled out to sea by fate and fortune.
Her only company is words – those of the finest poets and authors of a dozen lost civilizations, and those of ship captains, most of them not knowing as they write that their crew is doomed. She grows to think of them as friends. Only rarely does it occur to her that it is their skeletons that lie out on damaged ships or beneath waves, picked clean by fish and by birds, and then a shiver passes through her and she slams the logs shut, going out to lean against the railing and stare into the sun.
She can never save a single one of them.
At first she is too young to understand, and then she is too young to try, and then finally she is old enough to hoist up with rope the coughing, bleeding sailors who swim desperately up to her small haven. They are usually delirious. She tends to their wounds as best she can, but none of them stay for long.
One of them sees the light of her home and he calls her an angel.
She does not remember her name.
There are other things brought by the ships, other than the dead and dying. They bring fabrics and spices and strange curiosities from afar. There are not many ships; the girl tends to her light like a religion and most are warned away from her graveyard and the dangers in its depths. But her throat does not often have cause to parch with thirst before another vessel hurtles through her warning and splinters among the ships, carrying hard bread and fresh water and a kind of wine that makes her throat tingle and her head grow light.
Once there is a long pane of reflective glass. The image there frightens and fascinates her, and she places it across from her bed until the day she breaks it in a fit of fear and rage. Still, ever after, the image haunts her dreams – dreams that grow darker and more tangled the older she becomes. She does not know what creature she is growing into.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers to the logs and books as she lifts them from their captain’s stiff hands. She does not know what she is apologizing for. But she smoothes their wrinkled pages tenderly as she places them on the lighthouse shelves, and they keep her company as the sea washes the flesh of the past away.
For all those growing up and learning that their place in the world is going to have to change.
Precocious. She was a bullet of a child – tearing through life mad with the ease of drawing words from silence and meaning from paper and numbers from numbers, whirling and laughing as the facts scattered around her like leaves. She plucked them from the air, taking hold and then (as soon as another caught her eye) releasing them to shine in the eyes of her elders, pride and admiration. She was all that they had ever wanted.
Knowing the answers was sweet. This is what light feels like, she thought, racing ahead, all quickness and drive and ribbons and E = mc2. It will be like this forever. The thought was so entrenched that she never put it to words until it was too late.
But slowly the kids she’d left behind began to turn away. The path was dark; she shivered and grew cold. She could not tell whether they had pulled ahead or just found other sweetnesses to measure by, branching trails at the wayside, weighing themselves by chocolate and flecks of gold.
The first time she did not know the answer the tears gnawed at her eyeballs and washed her face in something not darkness and not light. The second time it seemed that the ones who did know had begun an open war, hurling splinters of their truth at her skin.
Their truth:You are not so special.
By the fifth time she was numb.
She was a bullet, and when she went tearing through life life shattered and could not bear up. She gathers the pieces in her hands. She sucks away the blood from her fingers, torn by glass.
I learned about this tricky form of poetry at 4 am one day and just had to try it out for myself. Challenge: write one yourself and tag it ‘mfriday paradelle challenge’!
"The paradelle… is a poem of four six-line stanzas in which the first and second lines, as well as the third and fourth lines of the first three stanzas, must be identical. The fifth and sixth lines, which traditionally resolve these stanzas, must use all the words from the preceding lines and only those words. Similarly, the final stanza must use every word from all the preceding stanzas and only these words." [X]
A paradelle for you is worth a thousand hours wasted. A paradelle for you is worth a thousand hours wasted. Now-discarded, sacrifice papers burn; my grate is full of this ash. Now-discarded, sacrifice papers burn; my grate is full of this ash. Hours burn of you. This paradelle is wasted for ash, a sacrifice; my discarded grate is worth a thousand papers now full.
Breathe of me and across the miles I will think of you, my sweet and precious muse. Breathe of me and across the miles I will think of you, my sweet and precious muse. All your writing and your voice still fill me with triumph - the splendour, inspiration, and fine thrill. All your writing and your voice still fill me with triumph - the splendour, inspiration, and fine thrill. I breathe your splendour across the writing, fine and precious and sweet. Voice, you muse, fill all of the miles! Think of your triumph and my thrill. Will me and still me with inspiration.
Somewhere, far from here, the perfect sky fills, run with stars at the same time. Somewhere, far from here, the perfect sky fills, run with stars at the same time for both lovers, and they of magic, they lie in the same home and are in truth content for both lovers, and they of magic, they lie in the same home and are in truth content. Stars, the content of lovers, are at home in the sky. They lie. Time somewhere fills both the same with truth, for far from same and perfect and magic, in here they run.
My paradelle for you will voice my fine triumph, sweet and full. A precious lie wasted, a muse, inspiration; with me, in me, and of your same burn. Now this here is home (/you/ are), and I fill hours across papers - run miles. Somewhere, still worth writing, far from discarded, they think. They breathe of and at your grate, content. The same truth in both ash and splendour fills all the sky with magic. Time is the perfect sacrifice for the thrill of lovers, of the thousand stars.