Friday, April 22, 2011
her spring, his winter
I couldn’t sleep last night.
I could smell the winter on your skin and its dry, bitter scent clogged my mind.
I lay beside you. Felt you so close, so far. I listened to the gentle ocean swell of your breathing, so much deeper than the uneasy waters of mine.
I slowed my breathing, synchronized it with yours. But my heart screamed faster, faster so I sped ahead, leaving you behind.
The air in the room was bland, neither cold nor warm. As if my boiling agitation and your frozen stillness had cancelled each other out.
I could hear thunder clearing its throat in preparation for a debate with lightning. Disentangling myself from the sheets and your smothering frigid-sleep, I opened the window as the raindrops started their patient tapping.
The argument between surly thunder and passionate lightning was fully underway. Through their chaos, a breeze reached its hand in my window. It stroked the skirt of my nightgown and ran its damp fingers through my hair.
It smelled of spring. It said come.
I almost took the offered hand of the breeze. I leaned towards the window, the black night and the rain.
But I looked over to your bed just as the lightning swore an oath that echoed between the bedroom’s narrow walls.
I saw you, in that flash of light. You were awake, watching me.
Only vaguely did I see the paleness of your skin, the purple smudges under your eyes, your half-open lips, the bristly hint of a beard.
Your eyes I saw clearly. They met mine for a second. They looked at me as if I were a ghost, a stranger. Your clouded vision had sharpened and in them I saw a fever. A desperation that belied your stiff exterior.
I felt like a criminal, a thief, a murderer.
I shut the window slowly. It closed with a dull thud, shutting out the elements that had offered a newness, a coming alive. I pulled the curtain over the argument that still droned on and, almost ashamed, slunk back into bed.
You pulled me close to you with your cold hands, laid your lips against mine.
Your kiss tasted of snow.
We lay entwined, your bare branches twisted up with my budding vines.
Soon you drifted into sleep again. I lay, ear pressed against your chest, and listened to your heart, trying to learn its pattern, trying to slow my heartbeat to parallel yours.
And I don’t know how long this can last. For there is spring in my soul which I can stifle for no one… No, not even you.
Someday I must break away from your stagnant, icy slumber. I must bloom; I must leave.
But oh, I think I shall always miss you, my other half, my winter-soul.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I didn’t feel you leave my side;
didn’t feel your warmth slip away.
But I awoke.
I saw you, at the window.
Saw you illuminated, your nightgown waving around you.
My little bird, perched for flight.
And I could no longer ignore the fact I’d caged you too long.
I must let you go.
Tonight I am selfish.
Tonight I want you.
I pull you back.
But I know I will set you free,
my dearest sparrow-heart,
before you are forced to escape.