Love Is Rarely More Than a Fatal Blow We Never See Coming
When the boy with the green eyes comes looking for my body, I let him.
He is absent-minded hands upon the soft curves of my flesh;
he takes in the body but not the girl and I tell myself it is enough
for I am desperate to believe these crumbs he offers
will sustain my hungry bones
until I know what it feels like to be loved,
and not just settled for.
Afraid he will leave before I can make him stay,
I turn my body into a war-zone.
I torture it, starve it, persecute it for every morsel it consumes
and for every proportion of this womanly mass
that does not shrink beneath the underskirts of my skin
and if my body is the only currency of which I have to saddle his pockets
then I will punish it into flawless compliance
and maybe then
it will no longer be her name
that rises and falls with every breath he kisses into my lungs;
rife with the taste of her memory
which he cannot drown beneath the sinkholes of his eyes
where I am too afraid to swim.
My body fades until all that encases these organs
is the corpse-like skin of an empty beggar and it weeps its song of victory,
please stay, please stay, please stay,
he does not know the sound of my name upon his tongue
and my heart becomes a wasteland
as vacant as the hollows of my cheeks
but I tell myself this is love because even though his laces are tied
he has not yet left
and I am still cleaning the mess from the ones who came before
and slit my wrists with the sharp edge of their goodbyes;
whose blood of abandonment I used
to finger-paint the words of my story upon the walls of my house:
Everyone you love, leaves.
But hope is a diehard weapon
and though his finger rests on the trigger
I tell myself he will be the restoration not the destruction;
the healing, and not the wound.
Love is rarely more than a fatal blow
we never see coming.
When the boy with the green eyes no longer comes looking for my body,
I write a new story upon the walls of my house:
Leave first, before they leave you.
Cursed with the hands of an explorer,
I am persuaded by eyes as dark as caves,
always intrigued by the burial ground of people’s hearts.
I have become a professional in the archaeology of pretence -
raised with dirt beneath my fingernails
I cannot help but dig for evidence beneath earth,
intention beneath word;
pick at meaning until it bleeds
then blame the wasteland for the flies.
He asks if I’m alone but not if I’m okay.
Letters fall from his tongue like charms of a bracelet;
I excavate truth not in the words he speaks,
but the emptiness between.
Pretence: An attempt to make something
that is not the case appear true.
Forgive me for wasting your time,
I thought there would be more to find here.
I had forgotten how caves are nothing more
than vacant spaces
another would desire us to fill,
all the while left hollow ourselves.
I have found that truth lies in the spaces between the words,
in the cracks in the pavements we tiptoe over
as if we are afraid of seven years bad luck, afraid to break our mother’s back,
afraid of what honesty will do – or undo –
in the lives we have so carefully swathed with our own language,
so fluent in things of the weather.
Unspoken words get caught in our throat;
we choke on their sharp edges and spit them back onto our plates
and instead satiate our fear of the silence
with words soaked in honey that are swallowed with ease;
malnourishing ourselves with empty calories
and all the while wondering why we never feel complete.
I wonder if this is why some of us like to chew on metaphors;
here we can taste truth without saying truth,
here we can walk on the cracks without falling through
and I think that’s the only way some of us will ever feel safe.
Maybe that’s all our lives really are anyway;
a metaphor, an analogy, a parable.
Maybe none of this is real,
maybe we are all just the same stories spoken to new generations.
Maybe we are nothing more than a social experiment, Big Brother,
watched and scored and already lost to government control
and maybe freedom is nothing more than illusion
and the last person standing, wins.
Maybe you no longer love me.
Maybe we have come too unstuck to hold together anymore.
I look at you and want to speak these things out loud,
I want to tell you how I think I’m sinking
into the deepest part of myself and can’t find the way out.
But your eyes are fixed on the afternoon sun as it comes through the window
that faces west towards the ocean
so I watch fallen leaves scatter at the kiss of the wind and hear the sound
of the currawong calling in the distance.
You note the shifting light; perhaps the change of season is close,
you say, and I reply,
perhaps it is.
Kathy Parker is a writer, poet and spoken word performer from South Australia.
Kathy’s poems are raw, emotional and unapologetic; encompassing themes such as trauma, abuse, domestic violence, body image, self-worth, love, loss and healing. She writes from the heart of a survivor and warrior; confronting the brokenness of her life while leaving others empowered to overcome the brokenness of theirs.
When not writing poetry, Kathy is a contributor for Network Ten’s news website, 10 Daily, with work also published at SA Life Magazine, Elephant Journal, The Mighty, The Minds Journal, and Thought Catalog.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.