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necessary whispers

observe. connect. make new.

Month

December 2015

Spoken Word: Strength Is A Journey

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(Photo credit: Heiko Müller’s drawing, Across the Alps.  http://www.heikomueller.de)

As we all blow away the flame of 2015—watching the smoke of its fire march into the sky and then disappear—let us consider what it is to end a thing. And end it well.  Happy New Year to you all!

 

Strength isn’t born in a seated position—

In fact it isn’t born at all—

It does not appear

And cannot be bought but

Instead

It is wrought

When against resistance you push

And push

And push or

Pull, depending on . . .

 

Strength is a journey:

Not of flight but of steps.

One foot in front of the other

Despite the hurricane blowing in your face

Or

Even worse

The nothing that does not

Blow through the trees

Or quicken your pace—

That does not traipse along the face of water

To begin a ripple

Signaling movement or

Purpose

Or hope.

 

Strength is being alive

Because you chose to

Live.

 

Strength is carrying the load:

Sometimes of weight given to you

By others

The sadness and pain

The confusion and rain

The lies and the truth

(That hurt more than the lies)—

But sometimes strength is carrying

Lightness:

The talents you know

And the gifts that could grow

If only your courage caught up

With . . .

Well, you know.

Your strength.

 

Strength is saying goodbye

To what lies behind

Even when that which

Sits on the ground was meant to stay:

Deep inside your traveling bag

Never supposed to be lost

Or removed

Or missing

Or gone,

But when the road

You’re walking on got bumpy

Some things fell out and there

They stay.

That’s okay.

Strength is built on

“I thought I could count on,

but I could not.”

 

Strength is saying hello

Still remembering goodbye

Because goodbyes are lessons

And hello’s

Are lessons too.

Hello to the new without bringing the old

Hello to the bold I discovered

In taking a chance

And walking the road

And standing instead of sitting and

Never laying

Accept to reenergize

My heart

My soul

My mind

And time.

 

Strength is considering it all—

Not ignoring a bit—

Then setting a goal

Up ahead.

Assessing your then but

Living in now

Whistling your wishes

Walking your objectives

Fighting to climb

And to climb

And to climb

Higher and

Higher

And you might as well think it:

Higher

Get ready,

Let’s go.

 

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

 

 

A Poem: The Moment After

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(Photo credit: This Poem was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller‘s painting, Doge and Dogaressa.  http://heikomueller.de)

 

The moment before, he knew

She knew it, too, but she didn’t know

What it meant.

He had spent all he had in love

And in time—

For time is all we have to spend—

Not knowing that one second would turn into

Years.

 

The moment before, he felt

She felt it, too, but it was in her mind

What it meant.

Dripping with memories, mundane,

Like coffee percolating—

For coffee is cooked one drip at a time—

Her daydreams were painted in

Love.

 

The moment before, he released

She released, too, but she didn’t expect

What it meant.

Embracing and letting go, to embrace again

Was like cleaning her teeth—

For teeth must be cleaned every day—

He knew her expectation and knew he would

Fail.

 

In the moment, he could smell her

She could smell her, too, and her senses knew

What it meant.

He started a fire between his head

And his heart—

For the heart stokes the kindling the mind provides—

But embers singed deeper than he

Expected.

 

In the moment, he could see the glow

She could see it, too, and she knew

What it meant.

The lingering warmth of his hand on her back

Felt like ice—

For ice signals death—

The frigidity was new but not exactly

New.

 

In the moment, his conscience writhed

She writhed a little, too, and she knew

What it meant.

His goodbye lingered near

Like a rattling snake—

For snakes stalk and then suddenly strike—

And she stiffened her heart, bracing for

The end.

 

The moment was gone, the seconds counted

And done.

The hem of her gown swished away

And his countenance melted

Like fire melts ice

And ice turns to water

And fire boils it all to steam.

The end was the beginning

The beginning was now

He sat on the ground

He looked to the sky

The moon turned out its lamp

And he knew what it meant.

 

Jill Szoo Wilson

A Poem: Undone

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(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller’s drawing above, http://www.heikomueller.de)

 

One layer at a time he peeled me

Like an onion

His hands wrapped around my outer skin

From top to bottom he found my flesh

And I made him cry

Like water

Running down the side of rock

In a cascade of drops becoming

A river below

Into which we jumped

His tears breaking our fall.

 

One page at a time he turned me

Like a book

His hands against the leather

Bound around my story, all my words

Unspoken and broken

He read and knew and studied

Like art

Smeared across a canvas

With descriptions written below

Telling of the image

Sitting still and wanting

To be known.

 

One note at a time he sang me

Like a song

Released from the beak of a bird

Whose daily life is filled

With music because music is

Like emotion

Strong and loud when the air is enough

And slow and soft

When there is tenderness in the touch

A balance of adagio and

A quickening of the pulse.

 

One sip at a time he drank me

Like wine

Held inside a carafe

Until the day my breath met his

At the edge of a glass

And stained our mouths with red

Like a flower

Vibrant with color and life

Not pulled but watered instead

By attentive hands

That understand

Petals cut or plucked

Are already dying.

 

Whatever the measures by which he moves

Whatever the story he tells

Whatever the words he says or unzips

I am undone

And his.

 

Jill Szoo Wilson

Creative Writing: Siesta

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(Photo credit: This short story was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller‘s piece, Sonnenkater.  http://www.heikomueller.de)

For my 50th blog post I thought I would lighten things up a bit!  Welcome to my sense of humor, as well as my love of animals and nature!

Men with briefcases move up and down the streets like ants: all in lines, moving this way and that. Scouts sent forth from their secret dwellings, with secrets at their sides and secrets in their minds. They rush into the world to gather and to hunt and when the day is done they hold their provision over their heads, like ants but also like African women carrying water back to their children.

 

All is a race, if you think of it thus.

 

In the shadowed jungles of the sewer holes and pipes that run wild under the city, there in another kind of race. As the suits and ties vibrate with the ticking of the clock above, there are men and women of valor whose orders have been pecked out by feats of daring and of strength. Yellow eyes—but sometimes green—flash through the underground tunnels and make plans for the sun-filled above.

 

The cats run the city below the city, and there is nothing we can do to stop them.

 

“I call to order the weak and the strong, everyone has their place. Some of us thin and some of us fat, all are fit to run the race.” Garrin’s voice was loud: a little too loud, to be honest. It rose into the echoey chambers of the 27th District of the sewer line and fell flat with self-importance, but also boredom. Garrin was wry and dry and not at all shy, which is why he was elected to the position of Mayor.

 

Their voices and fur fill the underground roads. If you don’t believe me just ask them yourself.

 

Camille, a mostly white cat, lay on the recently-swept floor and licked her right paw, “Garrin, I need to be given my daily task now because I have to be home early this evening. One of the human I live with keeps feeding my kittens milk, which is giving them diarrhea, so I want to be home in time to feed them myself.”

 

“I know what you mean,” said Fluffy McHairball (a name given to her by a female human with no imagination at all). Fluffy continued, “My kids are growing up without me, Garrin. You’re giving us too much to do.”

 

Garrin laughed out of the corner of his mouth as his tail wagged back and forth, giving away his annoyance, “Ladies, please. I can announce the daily tasks with speed and efficiency as soon as you stop complaining.”

 

Camille did not appreciate Garrin’s belittling tone. She lowered her ears, looked away and wrapped her tail around herself. “Spoken like a man whose kittens are grown,” she whispered. The other women around her chuckled and rolled their eyes.

 

Ignoring Camille and the attention she drew, Garrin began to announce the daily tasks to the cats under his charge, in alphabetical order, of course.

 

“Anthony, I need you to target the garbage bins outside the seafood restaurants, today. As we are all aware, I had to fire Catpernicus last week because his was the seafood beat and he was woefully lazy, thus the embarrassing shortage of seafood in our storage bins.” Anthony stood like a soldier, ready and willing to carry out his newly given orders.

 

“Yes, sir,” said the young Anthony, whose voice creaked with puberty when he spoke.

 

Garrin continued, “Bartholomew, you’ve done well on your rounds as of late so I am promoting you to the Starbucks run. We need you to carry as many of the cup sleeves back as possible because, let’s be honest, they are fun to play with and they work well as portable scratchers.”

 

“Garrin, you’ve got to be joking!” interrupted Fluffy. “The humans may not mind depleting the forests for such waste but we do not need to be a part of the madness by collecting their bad choices.”

 

Garrin’s tail again began to unconsciously wag with annoyance, “Fluffy, please. If you are ever mayor (which I doubt) you can make the decisions. As you know, we have brought your grievance to the Board of Governors and they have settled the issue. The cup sleeves are useful to us and we are not the ones cutting down the trees. Can I please continue so you can all begin and end your day in a timely manner?”

 

Fluffy yawned in disgust and then licked herself in spite.

 

Feeling the weight of their insubordination, Garrin listed the rest of the daily tasks in quick succession and then ended their daily meeting with their familiar chant, “Go forth into the streets, the weak and the strong, everyone has their place. Some of us thin and some of us fat, all are fit to run the race.”

 

The young cats exited the tunnels with fervor and the older cats sauntered into the shadows with their tails pointing high in the air, in Garrin’s general direction.

 

Did you think we were the only ones who daily race about like ants? I hope you will accept that sometimes you are wrong.

 

Camille’s eyes squinted as she climbed into the sunshine. The day was warm and the sky was bright blue, the way it often is when Spring blankets the earth. She liked the way the warmth of the sun sunk into her coat and how the steamy cement of the street felt under her paws.

 

“Climb the highest branch of the highest tree and loudly cry,” she repeated her daily task into the air around her. “How embarrassing,” she said to herself. “And I am sure to break a claw.”

 

Camille’s task was the most loathed of the daily tasks—more of a monthly task, really—but someone had to do it. Today it was her turn. The objective of the task was simple: it served as a test of the emergency services at their disposal. “This is only a test,” Garrin’s instructions replayed in her head.

 

It would be horrible if one of the kittens ever jumped onto a tree and ran all the way to the top only to find that the local Fire Department had silently decided they would no longer be saving furry, four legged babies from the highest branches. So, today, Camille was charged with the job of testing their emergency system. “For the children,” she reminded herself.

 

As she trotted up and down the streets—through human legs covered with denim, under long cotton dresses that smelled like perfume and around the strollers filled with crying babies—Camille looked for the highest tree.

 

“Hi Camille,” said Rupert, an overweight English Bulldog, as she walked along her path.

 

Camille answered with her ears held high, “Hi there, Rupert. Nice collar. Is it new?”

 

“Ah, Camille, that is what I love about you. You’re so observant. And nice to observe, if you know what I mean. If only we were the same species. If you know what I mean.”

 

She knew what he meant.

 

“You’re a charmer, Rupert! Have a nice day.”

 

Rupert passed her and then turned to watch her as she sauntered away.

 

Moments after she passed Rupert, Camille spotted a tree that towered most others along the sidewalks within her district. It stood across the street, near one of the many Starbucks along this road, and she watched for a moment as Bartholomew pranced away from the garbage can outside the door. He was carrying three cup sleeves between his teeth and there were crumbles of a scone falling from the sides of his mouth. “Garrin will be so pleased,” she thought to herself.

 

After looking both ways—the number one rule in their employees handbook called, “Roadkill: A Manual Of Safety and Instruction”—Camille headed toward the tree.

 

Camille sat at the base of the tree and looked up. She closed her eyes for a moment and enjoyed the breeze that blew past her nose in the shade of the leaves. She could hear the sounds of the city street—the honking cars, the women clicking about in their high heels and the men talking to ghosts on their Bluetooth devices—and she swayed to the rhythm of the cacophony. She could smell the bread newly baked in the bakery and the hint of ground coffee wafting onto the sidewalk from inside the Starbucks. Camille took in a deep breath through her nose and released it out through her mouth, a moment of meditation and being present.

 

It is good to pause and enjoy the moment.

 

Camille stretched out her two front paws and stretched deeply into her back paws before calmly and aptly climbing the highest tree. She had done this many times before. Once she reached the top she lifted her voice even higher, “Meow!” she called. And then again. And again. Camille’s body was mostly hidden by the network of braches and leaves surrounding her, which gave her the courage to sing with volume and with flair. To be honest, she had a great singing voice.

 

Suddenly, a shriek filled the air, breaking into the cacophony of sound on the city streets and the sunlight was joined by hues of red and blue. The cars stopped honking, the women stopped clicking and the men exchanged their long sentences for pleas to “wait” and “hold on.” The fire truck came screaming down the road and Camille felt proud of her performance among the leaves that danced around her.

 

Within a matter of minutes, a particularly handsome fireman was lowering Camille from the tree and placing her paws gently on the warm sidewalk. Sounds of applause filled the air like a symphony conducted for a hero: the fireman blushed, Camille rubbed a “thank you” against his leg and both trotted off in separate directions, pleased with the jobs they had done.

 

We all feel proud to have done our jobs well. Oh, did you think it was only you?

 

Her daily task completed, Camille felt free and content. She thought of strolling home but realizing dinner time was still hours away, instead she made her way down a side street that lead to the park.

 

A grassy knoll filled with light saw Camille walking his way and he called for her to spread out atop his softness.

 

Nature speaks its desires and enjoys the companionship of those who listen. If you listen to it, you will know what I mean.

 

Camille lay in the center of the grassy knoll—careful not to dip her tail into the water below—and closed her eyes. She rolled her head back and forth to enjoy the shades of orange and yellow and red frolicking behind her eyelids. She could feel the heat of the ground on her back and the heat of sun on her stomach. She breathed in through her nose and released through her mouth—in and out, in and out—until her consciousness slipped into dreaming.

 

As she slept, the world around Camille continued to huff and to puff, like a train on a track with a destination to reach. Men with briefcases moved up and down the streets like ants: all in lines, moving this way and that. Scouts sent forth from their secret dwellings, with secrets at their sides and secrets in their minds.

 

Did you think you were the only one?

 

Jill Szoo Wilson

A Poem: Order From Chaos

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(Photo credit:  This poem was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller‘s drawing, Not Dark Yet, http://www.heikomueller.de)

 

Long ago two young men drew a map of the sky

Laying on their backs, perhaps,

Like children in tents with holes in the tops

They counted and connected the stars.

 

Order from chaos was formed in their eyes

Squinting into darkness

Blinded not by light but by enormity

And mysteries invisibly connected.

 

They traced routes with their fingers, point A to B,

Like homemade kites pursuing the way

With windy anticipation and

Lines to find what was or was not connected.

 

As the men grew beards, their love of the sky

Fell to the earth and to pieces.

Shatters of themselves were given away

To money, ambition and work, disconnected.

 

One of the two held hands with success

Palms sweaty together and traveling

With compass pointed away from the heavens

And down to notifications and contacts: connected?

 

The other man poured his life slowly

Like a cup spilling over his family—a wife and two kids—

He drained all he had, a deluge of hope

And then gurgled and gasped as she fled: disconnected.

 

Alone—surprised by aloneness—

The un-wifed man lifted the tips of his naked fingers to the sky.

Suspended in air his hand wished to feel

To touch, to reach, to caress, to connect.

 

No alien hand reached with fingers to intertwine

So the man looked down, instead.

A tear dripped from his eye—a smile inside—to his future:

Two children counting and connecting the stars.

 

Jill Szoo Wilson

 

 

 

 

A Poem: Stillness

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(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller‘s piece, God of Thunder (and Rock and Roll), http://www.heikomueller.de)

 

I stood beside the ocean once

And dared the waves to drown me

Toes nestled below the sand

Sinking further with the tide

I did not move

But the world moved around me.

 

The swells and crashes

Just beyond my reach

Roared against the sky in a game

I could not understand

And did not dare to join

But the world spun around me.

 

Nearly invisible spheres of water

Jumped from the fray

To cover my face one lick at a time

Until drenched my eyes and hair

Pulled me closer to the earth

But the world danced around me.

 

Foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog

Salt-filled gifts from places

Dark and rolling with darker tones

Stumbled toward my knees

And buckled me into the shore

But the world pushed around me.

 

Without becoming any more fierce

And not with a call to war or anger

The ocean pushed closer

Like a drowning man clawing toward

The horizon and I waited

But the world melted around me.

 

It meant me no harm

I was a stranger to the swells

And standing small before the darkness

I asked, “Why haven’t you heard me?”

The ocean smiled and I stood still

But the world leapt around me.

 

I fought a war inside my mind

And all the soldiers writhed in sweat

The battles long with rising smoke

Unseen and big but small

I sat instead of dying, marveling at the moon

And the world breathed around me.

 

Jill Szoo Wilson

Creative Writing: Unknowable

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(Photo credit:  This story was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller‘s piece, The Inner Light http://www.heikomueller.de)

 

“Do you think we are unknowable?” she asked.

 

Caimon looked down at the dirt around his feet and noticed his shoe was untied. “Not completely, no.”

 

“Do you mean that we are partly unknowable? But partly knowable, too?”

 

He could feel his pulse in his temples as he bent down to tie his shoe, “I think we can know someone as much as they are willing to be known.”

 

She wondered about his answer as she leaned over to tighten the Velcro on the side of her own shoe, “Do you want me to know you?” She whispered the first part of the sentence but the second part leapt too loudly from her mouth.

 

“I guess I want everyone to know me.   But not really.” He could tell, right away, this wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear.

 

“Well,” she said, with securely fastened feet, “I think I understand.”

 

Caimon tried to make a joke but it fell between his feet, “Maybe you do. But not really.”

 

As his paltry attempt at humor mixed in with the dirt beneath the hem of his pants, Caimon wanted her to walk away. He didn’t like the weight of her stare and he didn’t want to feel responsible for her anymore. In a moment of desperation, Caimon turned from her—filled with the conviction that he would never look in her direction again—and he said, “Why do you always need to know? What is wrong with not knowing?”

 

His footsteps were slow and heavy as he could feel her blue eyes fastened to his back with long, thick ropes tied around his organs. Her eyes pulled at him and tried to stop his movement until, between one exhale and the next breath in, he felt her release. The moment of her imprisonment was the moment of his freedom and in his freedom he began to run. Not fast and with nowhere to go, but with the swiftness of a man whose shoes were tied and whose longest mistake grew shorter behind him.

 

Caimon ran with his secrets. The unknowable parts of himself were rattling around between his right ear and his left. They were sloshing back and forth between his rib cages and percolating up into his throat. The words he would never say, the feelings he could never explain and the courage he conjured in his dreams but left stuck to the sides of his imagination were loosening with each new footstep. He wondered whether it was dangerous to allow the movement. His secrets felt like gumballs in a gumball machine and he had only ever seen one fall at a time: what would happen if the whole lot was disturbed at once?

 

He laughed under his breath and panted fog into the cold night air, “If only I had a quarter, I could find some courage to chew on.”

 

He laughed again but this time he knew it wasn’t funny.

 

The words of the girl wrote themselves on the trees surrounding him and he could hear them on the wings of the wind that fell through the leaves. He watched his shoes as they hit the ground—left, right, left, right—and he began to count the steps. Each step was further away and, somehow, closer, too. Further from her: closer to something new.

 

It wasn’t any one aspect of the girl Caimon needed to flee but the anchor her whole had become. She needed Caimon and Caimon didn’t want to be needed. She expected things from him and he wasn’t sure he had what she was waiting to discover. He didn’t want to disappoint her, to lose her or find her, and the girl only wanted to be found. Theirs was a connection of two negative magnets, one wanting to change her charge. She wanted to change the nature of herself so she could be pulled into Caimon and he into her, almost as though the choice no longer belonged to them.

 

“Unknowable,” he read as the words wrote themselves in the reflection of a lake up ahead. Caimon stopped running and never looked back but sat on the edge of the water.

 

The air was so cold by then that his breath felt like crystals grabbing the edges of his lips as it was blown from his body. The forest was silent and still: the kind of stillness that lowers itself like a parachute over nature when the moon is moments away from switching places with the sun.

 

Caimon, tired and cold, reached into the pocket of his coat to find his book of matches. Once he was certain the matches were there, he looked near his feet for pieces of fallen wood. One by one, Caimon reached into the dirt for the wood, methodically like he was looking for pieces of a puzzle that had fallen to the floor. Once he had gathered enough wood to build a fire, he reached into his pocket and pulled out two things: the matches he knew were there and an envelope she had given him earlier, long before he tied his shoe.

 

Caimon crumpled the envelope—still filled with her letter—in his left hand and placed it on top of the wood. With a match in his right hand, Caimon struck the side of the matchbook and watched the flame immediately appear.

 

“Quickly,” Caimon thought. “It is quickly that a match is filled with fire.” Just as the flame crept dangerously close toward his fingers, Caimon leaned over and watched as the flame stretched itself from the match to the letter, like a bridge between two lovers. Or two strangers. Once the letter was lit, Caimon stood.

 

He closed his eyes and felt the heat of the letter begin to grow as it linked arms with the pieces of wood he had gathered from the forest floor. Soon, the fire began to melt the breath that gently rolled from between Caimon’s lips. He lightly bent his fingers into fists, his fingertips touching the inside of his own palm. He felt the skin on his hands and wondered why he hadn’t noticed before how rough that skin had become.

 

He could see on the inside of his eyelids the orange and red of the fire he had built: the fire made with his rough hands and matches and her letter. He didn’t want to look at it just yet but, instead, he wanted to feel it dance before him like a lover unencumbered by self-consciousness or pride. Caimon drank in the light and let the colors of the illumination paint a masterpiece inside his mind.

 

Enraptured by the freedom of the flames and the heat of the fire against his shoes, and legs and face, Caimon leaned back his head and sighed a message that flew into the sky, “There is nothing wrong with not knowing.”

 

And without seeing the sun begin to rise, Caimon knew the day was new.

 

Jill Szoo Wilson

A Poem: The Liar

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(Photo Credit: This story was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller‘s piece, Fur http://www.heikomueller.de)

 

He told one lie inside one sentence—

A capital letter, a comma, a period—

To stop the darts inside their eyes

With tips of poison traced with flesh

And ash

From the man before.

 

He carried his lie like a shield—

A bouche, an umbo, a coat of arms—

To hide the head he held up high

A posturing of dignity and pride

But hidden

Like a murderer walking free.

 

His arm was heavy with the weight—

Sinews tearing, sweating, fatigued—

So he told one more to add to the other

Deflecting, like a reflection of fire

And blinding

Impending conclusions.

 

He picked up his finger like a steely blade—

A quillon, a foible, a forte—

To thrust accusations dripping with blood

Into the flesh of the men within his reach

But falling

Below his cutting edge.

 

He grasped at a pain inside his chest—

A palpitation, a flutter, a squeeze—

To arrest the cardiac aberration

That pumped with compassion

And wrenched out

His beating liability.

 

He opened his mouth and told one more—

A series, a novel, a narrative—

To let the drips of his life smear their faces

With draining blood

But lifeless

His heart deflated like a balloon.

 

The chill of the air blew through his flesh

And hardened his skin into

Planks.

No longer a He but now an It,

It gathered the furs of the men

At his feet

And wrapped their death around

His own.

 

It told one lie and built a fortress—

An isolation, a prison, a cage—

To insulate itself from the arrows

It feared would leak its life

But drained

Its own instead.

 

Jill Szoo Wilson

A Poem: She Spoke Of Love

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(Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller’s piece, The Last Goodbye http://www.heikomueller.de)

 

A moment before, floating in the sun

My love beside me

Warm and glowing

Her eyes ablaze with rays of light

Her darkness concealed in

Illumination.

 

A moment before, she spoke of love

My friend beside me

Kind and gentle

Her smile warmed but burned

Her face like wax

Melting.

 

I wanted to see my love through the brightness of stars

The universe brought low and waiting

Swirling about my hands and mind

Becoming one with all that breathes

And pants

And lives

And dies

 

A moment before, I removed my gloves

My fire beside me

Trembling and stiff

Her fingers felt but did not touch

Her hand in mine only

Embers.

 

A moment before, she swallowed words

My pain beside me

Inflamed and suffering

Her silence thickened in my throat

Her Nothing choked

Suffocating.

 

I wanted to see my love through the brightness of stars

The universe brought low and waiting

Wrapping my cold in warmth

Like a child crying

But hopeful

But calming

But safe

 

A moment before, the snow dropped down

My hope beside me

Present and vacant

Her ruffled dress covered with water

Her boots muddied with

Goodbye.

 

Jill Szoo Wilson

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