Self-Preservation

The black fly on the window sill

I walk the dark hallways

barefoot in white.

Sleep. I cannot sleep.

My body shakes and rattles like the windows,

waves trembling.

I am silence.

Every law I have been governed by

dissolving in a strike of lightning.

Heart, heat, heart, what is this?

The panic that had risen like a monsoon

is calm and still, but rolling and boiling beneath–

me soft across the wood floors.

I can’t do this.

Do not come here.

The broken window sill, the sheer curtains billow from a gale

and the storm enters this house. But I don’t hear it.

The black fly drowns. Scurries. Tries. Out by the sea,

the purple dark blooming in the sky as the rains are coming;

I go out to stand at the edge of my island at midnight

letting it pour down my body.

Comfort comes against my will

and the edge of the cliff is near

but no man is an island, this I know.

Can’t he see maybe he is the ocean

and I am just a stone.

He is paddling hard in the distance pushing.

The sheets of rain hit me and he keeps on,

the boat growing near on the crest.

The heat, I cannot cool this down, I rake my skin.

Please, please don’t make it, I breathe out,

the tears are words I refuse to say.

I know he sees my pale frame on this edge, with

his warm eyes cast, these sure and strong hands,

courage in his chest, he is coming for me.

My god, he is coming for me.

I cast it—the spell webbed through my marrow is all I know–towards

his motion, you are the ocean can’t you see

and I am just a stone.

I call out the waves, I call out the lightning

and the wind, pelting stinging burning rain,

my anger growing

I arch my back and gather the elements in my arms

in an unyielding sphere

and I let go

the wave turns him over

the water swallows, the foam comes and leaves

the black fly on the window sill

is buzzing when I return in the lightning’s shadow

this house empty and cold

my return alone

it’s supposed to feel different…I’m supposed to sleep.

Shadows on the empty walls play like puppets.

I walk across the floor and puddles form

in the cracked dining room,

watching the white light inside that was too hot

shrink beneath my gown, then breasts, then skin and bone

ribs and blood and then I grow cold.

no man is an island, this I know.

Can’t he see maybe he is the ocean

and I am just a stone.

I crawl like a ghost onto the mattress

beneath the window overlooking the drop

to the sea

not seeing his boat break on shore

I watch the cracked ceiling in the howling wind

I lay down to it, the rain is seeping in

dripping and dropping on my cheeks like tears

I could never make myself yet now I am weeping.

My limbs numbing and hardening, toes to hips now

not seeing the figure on the rocks moving

toward the house below.

The last spell is for pain-

to stop the pain, to eat up the loneliness

that beats through my thickening veins.

I watch my girlhood in flashes:

years of fighting in flickering images. And then

the years of my womanhood–

trying to feel the sand on the shore when I had no skin,

years of building

this house out here.

The man ascends the white stairs, his shadow

passing up the stair well, passing the dead flies

at his feet.

I await the completion.

Absolution.

Washing all away out there.

My breathing slows and is now the only sound in the room.

Chest barely rising in its weight.

I cannot forgive myself even now.

He enters. I’m too frozen to hide as he nears.

Loneliness turns to fear that beats at my chest with wings.

I close so hard I shake.

I shake harder because he leans and touches my skin.

My god he wants to take it–the shaking–

and he does

and he makes love to it–

to me, I feel it on my body

touched skin

and suddenly the ocean of myself

is gone

and here he is with his

real hands and innocent eyes,

flesh and blood and bone

Can’t you see, he says, maybe you are the ocean…

and he takes the wings and quiets them

with his palm.

I feel a painful thawing.

It pushes me beyond fear and into something

like forgiveness

as he cups me up and tells me to bloom.

Love comes in doorways.

Love comes in from the long dark journey across your currents.

Love breaks and sinks and swims

touching you as hard as you are

and words fall

like tears down your lover’s face

as oceans of your own

tenderness tear through you and reach out.

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11 thoughts on “Self-Preservation

  1. These poems are for me immramas — sea journeys from an I to a Thou which always end up back at a home harrowed and hallowed by the journey. The wet exercise waters something we can’t in any other way. Great precision and abandon in getting the the thing innermost in the heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Almost feels like an insult to try and pen a sensible comment to a piece of writing that has been dredged up from the ocean floor of the self and poured from an open heart onto the page. Epic is the one word that fits.

    Liked by 1 person

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