Love letter # 289

Joy and sorrow are the twin lodgers of my two roomed heart. They are the on and the off – the song and silence. They moved in when you did. They are both the light of your nearness and the shadow that it casts. The promise that you bring and the love that you withhold.

I am full sail when you arrive – a shipwreck when you leave. Determined beforehand, succumbed thereafter. Every guard I take against you – so easily circumvented. For beauty is the undoer of resolve – the rhyme that shatters reason.

Would that I could be strong; shut down those rooms – kick out those imposters. But no. For they are as my blood – the very river of my being – and I am the beat they proclaim. Even were I to discard both the drum and the stick, time would still be kept and it would still be the ever steady measure of my love.

Love letter # 240

I confess – I set out to be cruel to you today. I wanted to punish you for my hurt. But I couldn’t. I saw you and that warm, resilient flower inside me opened up – as though the sun had returned after its winter sleep. I wanted to push you away but something stronger kicked in. An elemental force. A bloom of longing. Something primitive to smash my sophisticated determination. Damn it.

It will be difficult having you around again – feeling what I feel, knowing what I know. Little drops will seem like oceans to me – little sparks a fire – for the heart makes songs out of ordinary sounds – and when it’s you I’m dancing.

Perhaps if you weren’t so beautiful. Perhaps if I did not love you so. Or if you were still in another country. But alas – you are here and I am breathless once more. And, as I promised you I would be, quiet.

Love letter # 213

Some distances melt away – with song, with years, with chance. Like when I thought I saw you in a corner – the corner you made your own when we were we. But this is no sad missive, for I was breathless with joy when I briefly believed it was you – and it was then – and you were never more than a handspace away. At least I know of such splendour – and it is now mine to remember.

Memory is an unreliable witness, I’m sure – but what wonderful testimony it gives. If ever I ponder it, it’s as though I can feel the light pouring in. Everything is radiant – and I am glowing. It is an amazing gift – this love you inspire. It cleanses me – and I am empty when it shines. And that is a wonderful thing.

The Universal Equaliser

I remember being annoyed. You wanting to photograph me with ten minutes to go. Amongst the ugly clutter of the departure lounge. “Something to remember you by,” you insisted, already adjusting your lense – framing me up.

I ground my teeth, clamping down on my fury, preventing it from becoming petulant outburst – wondering if this was the cruel part of you. The vivisector. My pain for your gain. “Why would you want to remember me like this?” I protested, stopping just short of biting your head off.

You smiled, as if was obvious, “When you open yourself up to beauty all the colours come in.”

Perhaps the circumstances and my mood were against me – but I never really understood. Until recently. Now I see those colours everywhere. Lovely and otherwise. All of them beautiful. Because beauty is the universal equaliser. The liberator of everyone. The transformer of all that we see. She is our light; and we only need glimpse her to know. For she does not ask us to pray or obey – simply to bear witness to her eternal wonder. And if we can open our eyes we can see her all around us, in both the brightness and in its terrible shadow – and with this vision we can re-cast the entire world in her image. So that even our despair will be a river of joy.

“I know it sounds stupid,” you said, “but I like to think of her as my queen.”

I laughed at the ridiculous, boyish charm of it – and you took your photo.

“You see … she’s never far away.”

Now, whenever I take the time to I examine that photo, I see how right you were. In that snap frozen, excised moment I am a woman beaming, illuminated from within, shining with mad-hearted love. The tissue box drama of the day and the accumulated exhaustion of knowing that it would arrive; these weighty strains do not show on my face. Somewhere in the gap between dread and finality you found the space for the likeness of rapture.

In truth, that is what this book is about. Sneaking away from my mother’s decay, hiding from my daughter’s disapproval, turning my menopausal heartache into diamonds. I can’t help but think you would approve. Or at least recognise the sleight of hand. And there perhaps is the central contradiction of all this fevered typing.

Trick or truth?

Is this just a brilliant, gravity defying routine you taught me – a way to explain away the sacrifice my family and friends have been forced to make? Is this the latest incarnation of the hollow enlightenment craze? Didn’t I just fancy a boy and get screwed up by it? Wasn’t I just a desperate middle aged hag whose neediness and lack of self-worth led her to pursue another impossible white knight? Are you the elusive god of my unfulfilment? Is this a temple of unending sorrow? Are these words my shameful blood still flowing? Pretty little stand-ins.

Sometimes it seems like all the striving of philosophy and all of the achievements of culture are a form of cosmetic surgery, a way to disguise ourselves from ourselves. To sweep the dead skin from the floor. To flush the shit away. To pretend we are not destined for the dust.

Then I look up from the falseness of the page and I notice the pale, crisp loveliness of the autumn sunshine and without needing to think about it I am instantly – instinctively – cleansed by its freely given glory.

And I go outside and feel it on my skin.

Love letter # 146

This may surprise you – but I wanted to. I ached to. But I just couldn’t. Didn’t. Too many barely healed wounds. The heaviness of history. Net result – I was just rooted to the spot. Not able to form the words, nor make the move. Easier just to walk away and have you wonder what planet I’m on. Better that you think I’m weird or, God forbid, nice. Probably you believe I was afraid of your saying no; but that wasn’t it at all. It’s yes that scares me. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with someone like you – let alone contemplate the soap opera of separation. So in the end my desire for you would not have been enough and to foist it upon you would have been selfish of me. Simply the fix of your kiss and all the unmending that would surely follow. For there is no such thing as no strings – not when the heart is involved. And mine is.

Love letter # 204

Because I was hurt, I tried to hurt you. Because my pride was punctured, I tried to shoot holes in yours. I sought respite from my pain in anger and an answer to all my tormenting questions in the vicious conspiracy of hindsight. Yet in the end, all these things simply added up to the fact that I loved you. At least in my own childish way.

So sorry for venting my inadequacies at you – for digging beneath your skin for what could only be found in my bloodstream. Sorry too that I prised apart your defences in order to bolster my own. I was a coward in the face of my own feelings and I sought to have you pay the price.

I do not say these things in order to appropriate your forgiveness – for perhaps I am undeserving of such grace – but I say them in order that you know. It may be of little consequence to you but if you will permit me one last act of vanity I will take back the sins that are mine and return to you the beauty and the kindness that are yours.