For my vanished Valentines

You. All of you. Seeping through cracks in time. Splinters in splintered memory. Each of you left behind, embraced now by distance; from which I may regard, with detached perspective, the folly of erstwhile excess and the dry ache of ancient deprivation.

What was I thinking? The unkept promises, the self-pitying dramas, the cruel indecisions. Those half-hearted kisses, the affections beseeched and the kindnesses unmatched. A litany of things both done and denied. The fire and its absence.

I say your names in my head, I picture you all…and I wonder where you are, what traces remain. Though I do not linger in the uselessness of regret or the theatre of mortification, I count your passing loveliness as part of who I am.

And so, this Valentine’s Day, I will set a place for each of you at my empty table, and I shall let the solitary candle burn down – for those I have imperfectly loved, and those whose love I did not admit. And I shall breathe…and know in that rhythmic presence the quiet ocean of your beauty.

My skin is your touch, my words your whisper, and this space beside me is the place where you stand. I do not weep for your vanishing, for you are moving through me now. I feel you as a wave. And I am lifted. Carried. And you shall set me down once more in the vale of love. Where I shall give thanks and recall that I am blessed.

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