Somewhere in the Smoky Mountains Is a man I left behind years ago, Now, with a wife and kids,
I scroll Facebook startled by the luminous Glow Of his happy family displayed before me, And I am instantly transported Ten years into the past, Wondering what the outcome could have been if I was more emotionally fearless, And he a little more courageous, But we were young, barely adults, Still in our early twenties, Still sticking to life plans we formed as Children,
No, we had our chance, And we both played chicken, Swerving right before the cataclysmic car Crash,
We both blamed timing, But for me, in the end, it was fear, I let him go because I was not ready to be a Wife, To support him in the way a husband Deserved, And I stopped loving him because he could not Make a choice between me and his current Wife, And I would never want to question my Partner’s loyalty,
So, I left the mystic Smokies for the brusk Roar of the ocean, and salty sun kissed skin, And set out on my own adventure,
A thousand miles apart, and ten years have Passed, sitting at my computer desk, I do not regret letting him go, Nor do I regret the memory of him, Nor do I hate his wife and family and their Success, I just drink my coffee and let the smoky haze Of the past wash over me like a wave, And listen to the roar of the ocean, I am grateful for the time we had, And the lessons I learned, And the life I have now, And the life I have yet to lead
The waiter comes to our table with a menu “Dessert?” “We could not possibly!” I say, My husband looks intently into my eyes and Says, “Yes! We will take a menu”, Years of saving pennies and fad diets are Behind us now,
We finger the menu together, Going line by line, ingredient by ingredient, Sitting closely, hair raised on our arms, As if we were transported back to the malt Shop where we had our first date, No strawberry malts listed on the menu, We settled for strawberry shortcake instead,
The dish came, a slice of cake as big as my Head, strawberries as big as my eyes, The cake dripping in sauce the color of my Salivating tongue, A playful dollop of whipped cream begs for my Finger to dive into it, And a mint leaf spreads it’s foliage over top As garnish,
My husband nudges the plate toward me, Taking pleasure in watching me eat, Taking pleasure in me reveling in new Sensations I had never experienced before, How quickly we have forgotten to take time For simple pleasures,
I plunge the fork into the cake, Dangling a chunk in front of my husband, Teasing him, Inviting him to taste what I have, Pulling him closer and closer to me until, He succumbs to temptation, kissing the Strawberry I carved out for him, I wipe the crumbs from the corner of his Mouth, And he playfully wipes a Dollop of whip cream On my nose, Then he wipes it away with the same napkin,
My head found rest on his shoulder, The cake found a new home in a to go Container to be eaten later, My husband quietly paid the bill, Holding me tight with one arm and handling Business with another, We made our exit, Strawberry short cake in tow, To be used at our discretion, Whenever we need a reminder of simple Pleasures
You were supposed to be my safety net,
My soft place to fall when all other men failed me.
Looking back, I don’t know why,
You are more liked barbed wire that disappears,
You catch me, and you cut me deep before vanishing,
And I crash to the ground, not dead but severely broken.
The only evidence I have that you even exist are the scars on my body
And the knot in my stomach every time I think of you,
Pulled in by the few fleeting moments we had,
And then barbed wire pushed in by your absence
And the arrogance that you think I will wait for you,
These feelings exacerbated by your relationship with my mother
Where you break yourself open to show your inner child,
In hopes that it will be praised and lauded and get back to me,
Digging your hooks into me deeper with intimacies shared through a surrogate,
Emotional vulnerability is my kryptonite,
You vampire! You stick your fangs in me,
And you suck me dry in hopes to make me wet for you!
It no longer works. These scars you burned in my soul healed
Enough for me to be deeply angry,
Spurned by the thousand woman you parade in public
While you keep me captive in secret,
My wakeup call was recognizing your delusion,
As you call me Love, pulling me close, turning your hand into a sword
As you stab me in the back,
As you thrust your sword into me, I looked into your eyes,
I am no longer a fool, but you are,
Fooled that you can do what you want to me and still have me,
I am no longer yours. I ripped myself off the nail bed you drove me into hoping my heart Would stay put when the others were wise enough to leave you,
I refuse to sacrifice my dignity for the scarcity of your love,
Bruised, scarred, bloody, I walk on a precarious lonely road without a crutch
Because if I could survive you, I don’t need a safety net.
By Hyacinth Hale
The veil was torn, and like a rug pulled from under me, I fell to the ground. Laid out like a corpse for all to see for the first time, I was exposed. You didn’t ask to see me like this, and I didn’t want to show you. I never hid who I was or what I go through, but plucky charisma goes a long way to assuage the burning hell I walk through on a daily basis.
Incapacitated, emaciated, gaunt, breath shallow until I smell life and my lungs hold on to that oxygen desperately like a toxic relationship pushing and pulling my chest. My heart working double time to compensate. I wake disoriented to see you in the doorway smiling at me as I come to. Your eyes heartbroken for the both of us. At first, I thought you were a mirage.
Something I dreamed of often so when you spoke, and I heard the kind timber of your voice,
I was taken back.
“Feliz Navidad” you said. A Merry Christmas it was indeed. Maybe this year this was our gift to each other. Pain and tenderness like a Christmas tree’s twinkling glow in the darkness such beauty and life from a plant that was violently severed from its roots oozing sap. Death always smells so sweet when it’s dressed up.
I am not dying, but a part of me did that day. The part that checks all lists twice and tries to make everything perfect. No one, especially me, could have predicted this would happen. I could not plan for it. I could not prepare you. My plans go to shit anyway, but at least we would have had a plan. Destiny interceded for us.
Like vapor clearing from my eyes you vanished. A plane to catch, a continent between us, you might as well have been a mirage. I could explain away an illusion of my fragmented mind but not a man who leaves. I know I was in good hands my friends rushed in, tapping into what all mothers know and only the ones they love benefit from, the nurturing touch of the scared yet courageous. Makeshift nurses, battle tested, and battle ready. They swarmed me in a frenzy, and you made your exit. All I wanted to know for months was if you would cross that fence you’ve been hugging like the door jam you left. I guess I got my answer.
I couldn’t help but think that this was our chance. Your chance to show me what I am to
you. In the frenzy, your voice rang out “feel better” before everything went black, and all I heard was the hollow sound of your footsteps walking away. I should hate you for leaving, but I don’t. You did as much as you could. Loved me as much as your heart allowed. Your veil was pierced today too. You could no longer hide behind the Casanova bravado you bolster. You were exposed under the twinkling light of a Christmas tree.