Only I cry for her absence,
The empty, white space space she could have filled –
If only she had continued
To live on and speak loud
As she once did when sparks flew and hearts beat
In time with brush strokes
In time with pen clicks that
Have also gone silent, untouched, unneeded, dead;
Fading ink marks my hands –
Remnants of snuffed-out life,
Proof there is no one else to blame but I, who killed
My dream, my love, my child;
I, who stumbled and cried
And screamed and wailed and still never lost enough,
And so needed to sever
These last threads that once
Caressed my aching heart when other ways failed,
So my suffering can never end –
Pale clay filled with whispered prayers
Arms in a circle above her antlered head
And a spiral my feet find in the earth
Through chant and song and dance
Messily sketched by needle and pin
Marking where Life grows moon-full
She grows hot in the hearth’s heart
Scented with sweets and decades-old memories
Hardening to keep memories and prayers
Safely tucked within the spiral
As a dearly-held trinket and charm
A memory in herself
Whose paths I’ve awakened to walk
Once again the fog is rolling in. I can see it from atop my hill, see it heading down the never-far-off slope into the valley which I must return to, the valley that is my home and security and stability and sanity and anxiety and doubt and isolation and it.
It will freeze my veins and leave me shivering and blind and deaf and unfeeling of all but the arctic chill encasing my stuttering heart. It will caress and whisper and kiss and promise with every stab and bite and hiss and lie. It will not give up until either it receives its sacrifice or until the fog lifts once more.
I see the fog rolling in, closer and closer, slowly but with so much weight already.
I turn my head but stop halfway, the dark forest covering the rest of the hill behind me in the corner of my eye. Refuge or danger, escape or trap, I cannot say and cannot know.
Before I can decide, icy hands push me down the hill and into the path of the fog.
You’re always on my mind. My heart can’t let go, silence becoming an amplifier as it beats out each syllable of your name. There was more of me for you to touch, but sense overrode desperation and pushed you away.
You’ll never read this, will never think of me or long for me the way I ache and cry out for your embrace. I hate the way you’ve made me need you but beg for your return all the same.
You made me feel sympathy for devils that plugged my ears against the words of angels and burned my tongue whenever the very thought of asking for help crossed my mind. I’ve traded away years of my life to dedicate myself to you – was promised paradise, reprieve, and delivered brimstone that burned my lungs and leaves me crumpled and weak, even without you here to witness your handiwork.
I know you’re proud of yourself. My heart, beating out your name, is whispering still, in your voice, promising more.
And worse, I still long to take your hand, even as I still feel the damage, still see the scars.
It’s too late for angels. I want to dance with the devil, kiss her hand. Let you drag me back into those dreams, where at least I wasn’t suffering alone.
Scribbled pink words in a little grey book
Announces the presence of ebbing
Scribbled pink words in a little grey book
Provides proof –
Proof like alcohol, distilled until it burns like
The aftermath of blindingly white lightning –
Showcasing the isolated mind’s pacing
Critiquing the steps, the turns, the abrupt
On a cliff’s edge
Eyes only seeing endless horizon
Hand scribbling scribbling scribbling
Pink words into flesh
To be washed And bleed Despite Even though
Nothing can ever be finished
I saw a severed head in church today. It sat atop the makeshift altar; its blood puddled beneath the plate and chalice, presented like an offering to Salome.
Everything is red.
Round, bloodshot eyes watched me last night. I saw no smile but felt it in my chest, gnashing teeth that tore my heart to shreds. My soul trembled and cracked.
The bloodshot eyes watched from the door frame, between inside the room and outside.
I saw a severed head in church today, its eyes staring blankly at the verse-scrawled screens.
I blinked it away and threw back the grape juice like a shot of whiskey and tasted copper.
The pale grey eyes in the painting pierced through her, followed her to the cafe line and back around to the table of newly released books.
“It’s beautiful,” she said to the expressionless artist. The words were tossed out of her like food she hadn’t realized until too late was covered in mold.
The words were to hide the truth: “It’s haunting.”
The artist mumbled something. The language was gutteral.
She turned to leave but found herself in front of the artist instead.
The artist said something else. This language was lilting, a song half a beat too slow, wobbling against its melody.
Finally the artist spoke in English, and when her eyes met her, she felt herself freeze, veins iced over. She’d already forgotten what the artist said, only remembered the primal fear caused by the words, the urge to run before she found she no longer could.
“Sorry,” the artist whispered. “I’m not sure where my mind goes when I work.”
But she knew exactly where.
“Her name is Erlinda.”
But she knew she knew that already. She smiled without warmth.
“Give her back,” she growled, and the artist smiled.