Cliches


We met in a bar. No. That’s cliché. We met in the produce department. No. Too 1990’s. We met on-line. Wow. No.

The physical meeting place was inconsequential. Where we met was a place thoughts collide and meld and ricochet, the battlefield of the mind.

When she said, “I routinely put my foot in my mouth,” my brain spat out about ten zippy comebacks like a slot machine spits out quarters. They lay in a heap at my feet, and I chuckled instead. I decided that I was probably too lame for someone as beautiful as her.

I saw the ring. But I fell into her eyes. I thought she wanted a friend, and I knew I could be that for her. When you find a soul-mate you want to keep them forever, in whatever capacity necessary. I could be her friend. I already was, I had been since the beginning of time. Talk about cliché, but sometimes that kernel of truth shines out of those over-worked phrases like a diamond in a turd.

We talked for hours over the first few months. I learned about the life she lived and the way she thought. I learned about the beauty of her marriage and felt the darkest jealousy I’d ever known. But I pushed it down and kept her close.

The first time we kissed was earth-shattering. Another cliché. She was feeling low and I don’t know who made the first move. But our lips touched and the chemistry was undeniable. It was at once the most beautiful and most heart-breaking moment of my life. We kissed tenderly for a long time, there in the bright sunlight, ignored by harried passers-by, anonymous in a city that didn’t give shit. I wanted to hold her forever.

Afterwards, we walked without speaking. I held her hand pressed against my thigh and she didn’t resist.

After all, the heart wants what the heart wants, and you can’t help who you fall in love with, and maybe one wrong can make a right, even if two can’t.

Above all, hope springs eternal.

Here and Now

When I need

You’re there

My rock, my safe harbor

When I cry

You’re there

To listen, to comfort, to offer a shoulder

When I rage

You’re there

To rage alongside me

When I’m lost

You’re there

Always to find me-

 

You saved me

from ordinary

from myself, from alone

When I call

You’re here

To whisper, to soothe, to comfort and hold.

 

I Love Yous

She said I love you twice a day every day for 22 years. She said it in the morning as I left for work. She said it back to me before we fell asleep at night.

When I found the texts on her phone, there were hundreds of I love yous. To a number that wasn’t mine. I didn’t find them on purpose. She asked me to find a number for her, and I hit the wrong fucking button.

I didn’t tell her. We had 22 years behind us. We had something comfortable. If she could still say those I love yous to me, I would take them. And if she needed something from someone else that I couldn’t give her, if that’s what it took for me to make her happy, to keep her, I could live with that.

I thought I could live with that.

Reasons

So much to rage against
In this quiet night
We pause to reminisce
To wonder why
And how we got here
Just like this
Forever locked
Inside this kiss-

There’s too much hurt
To hold onto
And too much good
To let it go
There’s much too much
Love to have
So hold on, baby
Let’s let it pass-

There are too many reasons
To call it quits
But not any one of them
Makes any sense
When you open your mouth
Against my skin
When you trace my sex
With your tongue again-

There are too many things
We may have done wrong
But the one thing that matters is
We’re where we belong.

The New Knight

It’s not the 18th century. Most people of the current generation have never seen a suit of armor, and too many of them have never been in close proximity to a horse outside the petting zoo at the park. Chivalry is largely dead. Where it lives, it’s considered an oppressive and outdated concept.

Personally, if I don’t get a door held for me, I’m pissed. But if a man has his hands full, I will gladly hold the door for him. And if he doesn’t say thanks, I’m pissed.

I never thought of myself as a liberated woman. I looked along the bridge of my Anglican nose at feminists and man-haters. At the same time, I scoffed at the suggestion that I needed a man to make me happy or whole or to protect me. I could fight my own battles. I didn’t need heroes sweeping in on white horses, sunbursts glinting off polished breastplates and brow bands, and saving me from my life while leaving muddy hoof prints on the carpet.

“Excuse me?”

That’s how we met. He didn’t look particularly knightly. He was average. Average height, average build, average voice. What pulled him out of Average World and into another realm were his eyes. If the eyes are the window to a person’s soul, his were yawning doorways. I tripped. I fell in.

“You’re sitting on my paper, “ he said, and he smiled. It wasn’t a big smile, but it made his average face look something closer to angelic.

“What?” I was still taking a tour of his soul.

He a-hemmed, and looked down and back up. “My paper,” he said gently.

I turned ten shades of red, and got off his paper. “I’m really sorry. I swear I’ve been house-trained.”

He laughed and leaned back on the bench. “Don’t be.” He offered his hand. “Elliot.”

I took it. “Anne.”

“Nice to meet you. You come out here often? I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”

I put my hands on my blazing cheeks. I thought I’d remember having seen him, too, but then I thought maybe not. Not unless I’d seen his eyes. “Not really. I prefer Centennial.”

He smiled again. “Some people don’t pull off a blush as well as you,” he said casually, looking at his paper with a studied interest.

“Thanks for noticing. I always hope someone will.” I was retarded. I stood up.

He stood up, too. Like a gentleman. And he picked up and handed me my bag, also like a gentleman. “I’d like to buy you coffee sometime, Anne. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or all three.”

I don’t know when Hanes started making armor, or when knights traded in prancing steeds for creaking park benches. But I still haven’t found my way out of Elliot’s soul. And all these years later, he still points it out when something makes me blush.

The Anatomy of Leaving

We can stand on the edge of forgiveness, look out into the swirling snows of a Northern winter while still locked safely within our haven. But to utter the words, to ask, over curling cider steam, and to look into one another’s eyes and see something besides ordinary; well, that is asking too much.

I asked him to touch me, a long time ago. When I was still young and beautiful. Before fear and uncertainty left its scratches in my face and dulled my eyes. He said no through a smile that didn’t take me seriously. He never took me seriously.

So I asked if I could touch him. And when he didn’t answer, I hid my tears and found ordinary things to fill my time.

Too many years now, as we stand on this cusp. Too much ignoring washing down this river, washing out to sea, washing out the bloodstains. There’s no going back. And the words fall from my lips and they taste bitter and used up. I love you, I say. But not in that way. Not in the way I did a decade ago. But I do still love you. I don’t want to lose you. Not as a friend.

He tells me I’m his wife. We made promises. And I realize with clarity what I knew all along; he assumed. He assumed I’d always be here to keep him comfortable. What he failed to take into consideration were the needs that would grow and grow until they ate me alive, and until I had no choice but pull him in with me.

I know that, I whisper. I know I spoke vows and signed a contract. But I’m asking now, will you let me go? Please? I can’t live like this anymore, within a prison of expectations so low I have to crawl on my belly to find them. But I don’t want you to be alone.

He swears at me, not loudly or angrily. But with a soft indignation that only strengthens my resolve. I want to lay the knife down. The blood is staining the carpet, my hands, my lips. I can taste it. The life draining out of you. You ask if I’m leaving you.

No. I will never leave you. But I have to follow my heart, there are things I need to see, to taste, to experience-

There’s someone else, he accuses.

I can’t deny it. He knows me well enough to know that I wouldn’t take such a drastic step unless I had a place to go. He knows I can’t be alone.

He turns his back. I’ve dealt the fatal blow, and I watch the years fall and pile in dusty rubble on our feet. The cider’s cold. The wind’s cold. The river rushes and I would like to fall into it and let it carry me wherever it is going. Away. I don’t care, as long as it is away.

So now I rock on this train. This train that is carrying me to you, who I’ve never seen in person. Our love affair began on a screen. Yet I trust it implicitly. It isn’t logical, I’ve heard the horror stories. I don’t know what I’ll get off this train and find. The man who lives in my head is a super hero, and I wonder how you can live up to that. I have no doubt that you can. And this train rushes me ever closer to being in your arms. It’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to be.

We can stand here, on the cusp, and watch the world rage, feel our hearts age, and want each other. But the wrongs done to get here are immortal. The best we can do is hide them in one another, drown them out with our sighs and our screams at the ceiling; numb them with our tongues, push them down with our hands, bury them in the desire that burns white hot and I hope never cools but that probably will.

The depot looms, the platform slips down our side. And I see you standing, looking. And you look just like the super hero I imagined.

I know; I’ve come home.

These Words

We laugh, we cry

We wonder why

We’re cast upon

This coil to lie

In wait for death

For the wolves to come

And take away

What all we’ve earned-

 

We lie, we love

We float above

The fray below

Like white winged doves

And whisper our

Assurances

That nothing mortal

Ends our dance-

 

We’ll have our time

You say to me

Our day will come

Just wait and see

And till it does

I’ll hold you tight

Within these words

We write tonight-

 

We gasp, we fly

We rise together

Over gold Sahara

And English heathers

Over muddy Mississippi’s banks

And Arctic tundra’s glacial flanks-

 

It is apart we love tonight

Bound only by these words we write.