xxi. Old Flames

January 28, 2011

The first time I have seen you in so long,
Here on the street and you’re with him. We meet,
An awkward smile, a stuttered hug, a kiss,
On either cheek and then, of course, I shake,
His hand. A man’s handshake to counteract,
How weak and how inferior I feel.
As much as I would like, I can’t ignore,
Him. It would just be impolite. As much,
As I may hate him, simply ’cause he’s next,
To you, I’m nothing if not nice. I shake,
His hand and try to seem unbothered by,
His presence. What I wouldn’t give for just,
Five minutes like it used to be, just you,
And me and no one else. Five minutes like,
It used to be, Five minutes feeling like,
I’m all you need. Don’t you remember how,
You used to feel that way? How I was all,
You needed; All you thought you’d ever need?

I still don’t know what happened; How or why,
Things changed between us all that time ago,
And when I see you in the street, my heart,
Still skips and takes my breath from me, for just,
A beat. I wonder if you feel it too;
If, even though you walked away from me,
There’s something there inside you still, some deep
Connection that will never break because,
Of what we had back then. Some way in which,
We joined as one and will always remain.
Your smile gives absolutely nought away,
And for a moment I am terrified,
That you don’t want to speak to me, that I,
Am nothing but an inconvenient,
Reminder of a past you’d rather have,
Forgotten altogether. But your eyes;
Your eyes are warm, they burn right into me,
The face you try to keep indifferent,
Uncovered for the liar that it is,
By something in your eyes. There’s something there,
That reaches out and feels for me as I,
Come close. Your eyes look over me and seem,
To yearn for me in ways you can not let,
Your body show, and with that subtle glance,
I see you savour every inch of me.
I see regret form deep inside, I see,
How well you know the mistake that you made,
How well you know the life you could have had,
If only you had stayed here by my side.

And still I do not know what made you leave.
Our searching eyes send pleas across the void,
That lies between, policed by whomever,
You’re seeing now. We linger maybe just,
A second longer than we should and when,
We realise, your gaze drops quickly to,
The ground and mindless small talk takes the place,
Of all the million words we said in just,
A moment with our eyes. This guy you’re with,
Oblivious to what is going on.
Oblivious to flames relit; to old,
Affection given life a-new. We talk,
About our families, our jobs and “How,
Is Steve?” “You know, I haven’t seen him in,
So long.” But words mean nothing to us now,
For something’s happening between us now,
Some magic that we’d let ourselves forget,
Rekindles all the flames that we had let,
Be beaten down. I start to feel a pang,
Of guilt, or maybe it’s just pity, for,
The person standing by your side, his wide,
Uncomfortable grin not able to,
Conceal the deep uneasiness he feels,
At being stranded on the outskirts of,
Our conversation, with no way of joining in;
No common ground to help him break into,
The channel we have built across the void.

He stands there with his arms down by his side,
Just looking like a misplaced prop upon,
The stage of our reunion scene. Of course,
He doesn’t know what’s blossoming between,
Us. Actually, he thinks I seem quite dull.
He doesn’t realise that we almost,
Don’t even know what we’ve been speaking of,
The real conversation has no words;
We’re speaking just to hide the rhumba that,
We’re dancing in the space between us, right,
Here on the street. A dance that nobody
Can see but one that’s sending sparks from soul,
To soul. He shuffles on his feet, a poor,
Attempt at catching your attention, so,
That he can say “We don’t want to be late.”
But what he doesn’t realise is that,
Whatever plans they have have all been dropped,
Appointments cancelled right here on the street.
He might be going home with her, but they,
Are done. It’s almost sad that he can’t see,
That you’ve already broken up with him.

And yet, a part of me is hesitant.
You left me once, how can I know that you,
Won’t tear me up again; That you won’t just,
Get bored of me and throw me out again?
Through all the fire that burns between us, right,
here on the street, I feel a sudden chill.
It rushes up my spine and lunges for,
My heart, the same cold stab I felt back when,
You left. A flicker darts across my eyes,
It’s almost nonexistent but you see,
It take me down. And then I see in yours,
A flicker too. Remorse for what you did.
Our dance comes to a fumbled end, our form,
All gone. The wildfire that was roaring just,
Now barely smoulders on. The dream that we,
Were living in disperses and we’re left,
Here on the street lost deep in some banal,
Discussion about work, or weather, or…
Your guy’s still standing there uneasily,
His hands now in his pocket and he jolts,
Awake from day-dreaming as soon as we,
Begin that awkward waltz of rushed goodbyes.
And then, it’s done. I turn to walk away,
And you take up his hand and head off home.

He’ll never know how close to losing you,
He was. I’ll never know just how much you,
Regret the way you left, and you regret,
The way your leaving then just lost me once,
again right here. You’ll never know how much,
I hate the fear that’s driven me away,
From something I believe was meant to be.

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ii. Come Mourning

January 2, 2011

The curtain cracked, the light blazed in;
At first his eyes screamed at the burn.
He closed them tight against the glare,
And took some time that they adjust.

He saw her now, all bathed in gold,
Her long legs crossed and one arm
Wrapped around her chest so that,
She might preserve some modesty.

It struck him odd that she would care,
With what they’d done just hours before
And yet he understood at once –
The girl last night had not been her.

He took her in, from feet to hair,
And it was clear that she’d transformed.
The dark had given her a veil,
A barrier between the two.

So radiant her beauty, now,
As morning light dispelled this shroud,
He felt guilt flare up deep inside,
For all the sin he’d dressed her with.

Her face showed not a single hint,
Of demons that she carried with,
Or of the animal inside –
Kept under heavy lock and key.

For last night that’s what he had seen,
Not the innocent before him here,
But wild, impassioned, brazen lust.
He did not recognise her now.

The flames of guilt enveloped him,
And he was forced to look away.
He searched the bed and then the floor,
To find the clothes that hours before,

He’d torn from her and cast aside.
He found a shirt, his own for now,
And gave it her to cover up.
She took it with a silent smile.

She looked at him and smiled again,
Their eyes now met, the first time since,
She’d looked up at him in the dark,
And pulled their naked bodies close.

His back was scratched; he felt the raw
Tracks that she’d carved into his skin.
Then as she turned to find more clothes,
He saw where he had marked her, too:

His brand was seared into her cheek.
The red teeth marks looked deep, he thought.
He wondered if his bite had hurt;
He wondered if she felt it still.

She pulled on jeans and it was gone,
The only telltale sign she bore,
That chastity and self-control,
Had been unbuttoned in the night.

She let the curtain fall once more
Across the window, blocking light;
The shadows rushed back to the room,
An echo of the night now gone.

He watched her pick her underwear
From off the floor and carry it
Into his en suite bathroom, where
He heard her cleanse herself of him.

She came back in the room, now clothed.
She gave another nervous smile,
This one directed at the floor.
She slid her feet into her shoes.

She stood now at his bedside, shy.
She did not look at him, stretched out,
Atop the sheets. A pause, a frown,
Her lips began to part, then no.

Without a word she turned from him,
And walked toward the bedroom door.
She left him lying there alone,
And though he’d known that she would go,

He felt an awful sense of loss.
Bereft not just because she’d left,
But for the innocence he felt,
He’d broken while she had been his.