In the city of lights, the city of love, there I was
without them both idly observing passersby
outside a café one summer evening
pacing back and forth, stealing covert glances,
hoping for one to catch my eye.
Was someone out there to hold onto
or had each moment longed for escaped?
Heartbroken and alone,
the emptiness needed a fill.
In need of a drink combined with the heat
stroked the urge
to forget why I was there.
In a daze walking into that dark café,
it appeared those glances weren’t wasted.
A pair of hands slowly reached for mine
pulling me into the intimacy of the night.
Before I knew it, we were swept away
and headed back to his place.
Love bites marked a moment not soon forgotten,
a moment not to be hidden.
The marks of a lustful moment,
and a need to escape.
I was not my usual self.
I’m not always carefree.
I blame the drink and the city,
for its toxicity drowned me.
The heart stops,
and fear attacks
tearing and scraping the insides.
Stepping back, it’s not the right time.
It’s too delicate; my hands are tied.
I stall. I ruminate. I do all the things not to destroy this.
I dread that I will, gravely… to the point of not moving.
This is what it’s like when people become a ghost.
It’s too much to go forward.
So, I turn
in the opposite direction.
I originally wrote this poem in May 2020 and have revisited it often. The original poem is shown below along with the updated version that is published in Coffee Shop Sessions III: In the Arms of Love. I share this with you to show that poetry can be a process. It doesn’t always come out right in one swing. If the poem means a lot to you, then nurture it.
The original poem:
Walking down to the beach, I’ll see you standing there, bother you, and tug on that beard. I’ll knock you down, roll around with you through the waves and land on top. You’ll have the sand between your hairs, our bodies soaking wet, while watching the sand melt away beneath us. It’ll melt the distance between us, it’ll melt the silence held within while we watch the waves in unison. Daydreaming for hours because we know the waves will never stop. And maybe, just maybe, we hope to be like those waves: with ceaseless power, flowing carelessly.
The updated version:
Along the shoreline, the two of us stand close as the distance between us grows.
It comes across in hurling waves, unlike the gentleness that greeted us.
Let me bother you, and remind you I’m still here.
The stale heat of the summer air weighs us down into a thick fog.
If only I could reach for a knife to cut right through, separating us in two.
I watch you standing there, but I’d rather tug on your beard.
I’d give anything to roll through the waves with me landing on top,
to lay with our bodies soaking wet, watching the earth melt away beneath us.
The distance between us would dissolve, and the silence held within, while
watching the waves in unison.
Our feet would become cemented in place
while daydreaming for hours, as we know the waves will never end.
Just as we once aspired to be: never-ending, flowing carelessly.
Overlooking the shoreline, a deep sigh forms releasing the exhaust of the day. Blowing out in the direction of the cool breeze, I scan the shore expecting something or someone, but it never comes.
Looking up, the pink moon rises over the North Sea and it hits me- this spot, this arresting moment is what I’ve been waiting for. Longing with anticipation eats away at such glorious living moments.
The wandering shoreline stragglers earlier in the day didn’t let anticipation eat away at them. No, they planned their morning that way; coordinating wakeup schedules and rushing out the door. Or maybe it was out of habit as early risers often do.
If the night didn’t consume me, I would become one of them. But I am committed to this rising pink moon; it calls to me to continue as a creature amongst the shadows.
Observing their intimate walk along the shoreline, she leaned into him with her interests for the day, her restaurant of choice, and how their family would visit in the afternoon. It was carefully arranged to be a pleasant day.
Or perhaps it was a secret rendezvous. After confessing their undying love, they took a chance they couldn’t let slip away. Their longing made their dream come true beginning with a morning walk along the shore.
Such dreams that I, too, once held as I now sit and wait with this rising pink moon.
It was close to the time we arranged to meet
here on our favorite park bench,
the one that overlooked the town green.
I sat with a view of passersby,
taking a glance at my watch
every once in a while.
It was any moment now,
the ripping away,
the bandage stripping off.
We didn’t need the words,
we both knew it had come to this.
You walked up with a carefree smile
and an ice cream cone
to smooth out the tone.
Your tongue rounded the ice cream,
like the times it used to do the same to me.
We couldn’t get back to those times,
before we hurled hate and indifference,
before you’d throw the suitcase into the trunk and disappear
but return to say ‘it’s all okay, it never meant anything anyway.’
So here we sat
with an impending implosion of my heart
while yours left months ago.
I turned and asked for a bite,
as memory flashes recalled bites taken
from your ears and down your neck,
lustful moments that we’ll never get back.
“So, this is it?” I asked already knowing the answer.
“This is it. It’s okay, we’ll be fine,” you replied.
The words were empty,
spoken as if you had already left,
spoken to reassure me,
that I would be fine
but you had already sailed on
and this was all formality.
“Okay… okay. I’ll be fine. You don’t have to …” I insisted.
Your eyes met mine,
cold but still with a bit of care.
‘Are you sure?’ you persisted.
Nodding, I pulled the ice cream from your hand,
swirled my tongue around and tried to replace the image
where my tongue knew it had ought to be.