To love is to risk the possibility of despair. We all know this in our bones. However, there is a bittersweet beauty to the heart broken. Often, our sorrow is a door to a new understanding, a deeper honesty and a fuller compassion. Thus, we have collected here ten of our best melancholy love letters.
Love letter # 1
You won’t read this so I won’t lie.
This is love without hooks, without points of order.
But what becomes of love when it’s dammed? Does it pour through cracks? Does it threaten sudden inundation?
I can answer only by saying that the secret unleashing of floods is a euphoric liberation. It is the beauty that despair becomes. It is the light that shines when you’re not here.
So maybe this is it – some kinda wild river. I know I promised not to mention it but a dumb wall cannot hold back such a beautiful rush. Right beneath my fingertips visceral, unreasoning, eternally narcotic glory is triumphing over text book ordinariness.
When I fell for you I was uplifted.
And your not being here, your not responding – it has done nothing to quiet that inspired song. I hear it in every silence. It sits behind my edifice of pretence; my pretending to be okay. It will not keep quiet and neither will I.
But you will get no cards. You will receive no flowers. I will not call you. I will not beseech you. I will become a figure of memory – someone you once knew.
But I will walk away singing.
For love that does not even whisper is wont to become poison in the veins – and I would rather have the golden light. Even if the price is a fire. Even if I lose the distinction between ecstasy and despair.
Why be mad for trinkets when you can be mad for angels?
Through some strange gate you found your way inside me. Your temporary tenderness kicked over the traces. The brakes stopped working – and in their place…flight.
Falling. Splendour and terror. A magnificent dissolution. An unexpurgated version.
This gift you accidently gave to me. Your warm ardour, your momentary faith in me – it changed the way I breathe. And my love for you suffuses everything to this minute. Even when I’m begging not to feel, even when the blood is sticky and my fingers are trembling, even as I drink to forget.
How can I be quiet when there is music in everything?
So here I am – blurting to the safe ether. Letting the dam burst wash me to the sea. I can tumble in that crazy deluge knowing that at least I’m getting somewhere.
See – much better to type it out than to fence it in.
Love is too vast for silence. An ocean too big for a teaspoon.
Love letter # 3
This morning I woke to find that sorrow had turned back to sweetness. And now – with all the rowdy gatecrashers gone home – my love remains in quiet triumph. The room is cleared of wreckage and the song we used to dance to plays softly in the newly calmed space; the sound of tenderness – uninterrupted after all.
The noisy drama of heartbreak, the messy entanglement of separation – it was temporary. But my love for you…did I not say it was forever?
Though I can number my faults in the thousands, I am grateful for my two lone virtues – for I have learned to give without asking and love just because.
So now I can breathe – and it is joy – and my heart is free at last to beat out the rhythm of your name without bleeding. The things I remember – they are music once more.
Be free, my angel – set the stars on fire.
And always know, whenever, wherever, no matter what – here in the beautiful corner – that light … that light…that light.
Love letter # 154
How much I have not wanted to write this letter. How long I have delayed it. Turned it over in my head – in my gut. But alas, I feel that I need to say this: I can no longer continue. I do trust you. I feel that you toy with my feelings – enjoy the dumb, supplicant fact of them – but that you do not, never have and never will, reciprocate.
Naturally, you are allowed not to feel. This I have no issue with, much as it cuts me. My issue is with your behaviour – or rather, my reaction to it.
No more will I sit there, my affections being milked by you for whatever gratification this gives you. No longer will I rise in stupid hope to be slapped by the slamming door. It is a torment I am now refusing to bear on behalf of my absurd, hormonal optimism.
When you flash your smile – your eyes, your cleavage – I will no longer go to water. Because I will not be there to see it.
I am certain you will think me ridiculous in this; but I would rather imagine that acerbic snarl of yours than stumble again into the honey trap you so beautifully set for me.
I stand ready to offer you all the love in the world – but if you will not receive it I will neither force it upon you nor suffer your teasing delight at my reflexive adoration.
Maybe you have not set out to beguile and fool me at all. Perhaps it is I to whom all the folly belongs. Makes no difference in the end. I cannot stand your loveliness – the way it hovers so near and then withdraws at the merest touch.
If I was made of stronger stuff I would most likely tough it out – but I am made of longing and impossible hunger – and I will not inflict the spectacle of my pathetic starvation on either of us.
Au revoir, my love. You are wonderful. Far too wonderful for me.
Love letter # 191
You were my vespertine angel, my melancholy queen, and I was your lone hero, fighting the darkness on your behalf. But in the end the night still fell – and before the morning came I had lost you to the shadows.
Now the moon is my companion and the sun is the cruellest of eyes. When I wake in the night the black and the quiet make it possible to breathe your name out loud. In the day time, no such liberties are allowed.
I look for you in dreams; hoping to believe – but then my eyes fly open and the ghost of your kiss recedes at the speed of a startled sigh. Like you never ever were. And how complete the silence afterwards always seems. Deathly, deathly quiet.
In a way it’s a kind of release – as though memory itself had reached its end – and in that moment I am both the closest to and the farthest away from you. And I am okay at last.
Love letter # 462
I had a dream – the one of you that didn’t quite turn out. It was made from the sadness in your eyes and from the detailed loveliness of your bony fingers. Carved from the litheness of your form. Painted in the dusty alabaster of your skin. Made from the stories I wished were true.
Yet we are not the dreams of others, just as the world is not a map of our desire. You were not the fantasy I created and I was not the narrative you penned. But it was these two figures who fell in love. We were ones who followed. Hoping. Wanting so much to believe.
Now, as we sit with the blank stare of reality, we have something else. Easy to call it bitterness. Smug to call it wisdom. More beautiful, I feel, to say that this is what we made from the fire. Not just the ruins – but the light.
Love letter # 532
I walked into a fire to be with you – and now I live in the river of indescribable beauty. I tore off the hinges to let you in, so that you might lay ruin to my kingdom. At your golden behest, I reached up to the canopy of heaven, only for it to rain until there was nothing else left. Yet I did not take shelter. Made no effort to swim. Would not pluck the knife from my heart. For the rush of my blood was the swoon of your name. And all the broken pieces…they had fallen from your hands. Yet had I done what everyone told me – what they would do – all I would have is a busted resolve, dried up and mild. Dead inside. Instead of this. Which is a form of euphoria. For which there is no way to thank you, other than to let it flow. And to be swept into the sea.
Love letter # 544
So…this is what’s left. Words. Not even ink. Nor the slenderness of paper. Simply the flicker of pixels. Intangible, electric remnants. The shifting mystery of memory. A vague impression of scars.
Once…a passion that seemed like eternity. Touch, warmth, knowing. Promises whispered, fulfilled in the cry of desire. Our beautiful island. A whole life imagined.
Now…figment still. The vaulting imagination of loss. The erasure of detail. Smoothed to bare fact. Devolving to imponderables. Did it? Were we? What are these traces?
You…then so much a part of me. A story now, reduced to letters. Me…the ghostly chronicler. Gatherer of fragments, sender of encrypted code. Us…through the telescope of our distance. Speck of starshine. The pale, receding light of ancient fire. That time in this time. Beam of history. Faintest of all our kisses. A quiver on the skin of our passing. Yet still.
Love letter # 683
I remember everything. It has never left me. The sense of you nearby. I hear the sound of your footsteps; they echo in the valley of my love. I feel your body’s warmth, like the humid cloak of hot afternoons, wrapped around me. I reach into space. The air is your fingertips. I move in time to the count of old songs, and there you are, impelling, willing me to fly. All these details are mine; for you have bled them into me. Together, we are the rainfall…and this ground, these flowers…they do not distinguish. There is no separation. All this beauty is present, as ever it was. Or so I choose to believe.
Love letter # 717
And so it has come to this. The bridge that will not be crossed. The line that separates the wishing from the will not be. Yet although I have been here so many times before, I too am rent, as though by newly inflicted wounds. For I know so well your side of the line. I know it like the memory of knives. Like blood pouring out so hard and dreadful you want to let it run to the very end. Till everything is washed away. That I should now be the carver of such cuts will surely set those ancient floods in motion once more.
Of course I did not mean this. Of course I hoped we might not arrive at this awful precipice. I felt so good in your presence, so seen by you, that I wanted it to continue. Perhaps this was foolish. Selfish. It did not seem so at the time – but I concede that it may have proven so.
Yet for all that, here we are. With the brute animal fact before us. That for all of our absurd posturing, our dressing it up, our pretending we are somehow something other than what we are, desire is not a polite and constructed destination but an ocean far deeper than any philosophy we might dream of or insight we might proclaim. The river is made of blood. The castle built from bone. And dreams are made of skin. So easily torn.
I too have looked at another and wondered. How? What? Why the fuck not? Like you, I have scratched at the hard surface of love and rejection and found no satisfactory answers. Because there are no answers. No logical or ethical reasons. No conscious criteria.
So I will not insult you with a bogus explanation or political apology. You feel the way you feel and I feel the way I feel. Sure, we might try to conjure up nice, middle class theories about this but in the end they are all a denial. A way to paper over what all we fear. That sex, that desire, even love itself spring from wells we cannot control with neatly packaged ideas or the vanity of our so-called enlightenment. That in their narcotic thrall each of us shall surely fall.
I am in pain today, but I know that yours is hotter. Darker. Perhaps full of fury. I have stood many times at that gate, waiting and hoping, trying one more time, turning over one more stone. Because of this I know that there can be no consolation prize. No quietly suffering nearness. If I were you I would be doing exactly the same right now.
Au revoir, my friend. I know there is nothing I can say, so I will say nothing more.
I saw you look at stars
It was easy to see. You in your beautiful dress. Him sitting opposite, perhaps not noticing. On his phone. Your head turned slightly to the side, looking elsewhere.
Maybe it was nothing. Could have been anything. What would I know?
Then you saw me looking. You held my gaze long enough. A wave came over me, and for a beat or two…madness, but I felt it. I smiled, you smiled, and we got on with our lives.
Oh girl, I saw you look at stars. The distance in your eyes. The sheer scale of your longing. I know it lives in a box of silence.
Tonight, I will look again to the far-off light, if only to see you in transit; and there I will breath it out loud. Yes, I know.