You have wept an ocean in the middle of the night, curled against my back as if to keep yourself from being swept under, and in the morning I long to kiss away the dried salt in the corners of your eyes; but I never imagined this, never in all the years before we met did I wonder what you looked like with tears in your eyes (because how could I ever cause you pain?) so when your gaze finds mine I’m suddenly too shy; too shy to say I would drown with you in that ocean, if you asked, or that I will shelter you through every storm no matter the waves or the wind; too shy to profess my desperate, devoted heart and so I merely kiss you, lips and brow, and promise to return to your side.
I have wanted you since I was fourteen; since I listened to Kiss Me on repeat while working on my ninth grade science project; since I doodled your unknown likeness in my notebooks during tenth grade English; since eleventh grade, when Eisley made me long inexplicably, and senior year when I looked for your face in every crowd. I have wanted you since my unwilling adulthood; since the long nights when I would pace campus with Imogen Heap or sit cross-legged on my dorm room floor with Tegan and Sara; since the even longer nights after graduation when I would toss and turn beneath the sheets, refusing the false hope of the siren’s song. And I want you now, still, forever; since your voice has become the one singing me to sleep at night; since I’m no longer ashamed of offering you my own; since every song reminds me of you but none of them hurt the way they did before.
Summer nights like this, hot and dead, my legs recall the endless circles paced along well worn paths, between brick buildings and silent chapels, dormitory windows slid wide to catch a nonexistent breeze. Sleepless nights like this, my legs itch to run but you are sleeping fitfully beside me and I no longer need to go seeking in the dark, headphones blaring Eisley and Imogen Heap, Sixpence None the Richer urging me onward another loop in the endless quest for something which couldn’t possibly be real yet lays at my side now, a lifetime later. I sought you for so long that on these stifling nights my body still falls into the familiar rhythm, the need to pace, to pine, to be unsettled and unfulfilled, the impulse almost overwhelming until I turn over and brush my hand across your bare skin to feel your warmth and life beneath my touch, the proof of our reality; the proof we no longer need to wander in lonely circles on restless nights and return, exhausted, to empty beds – our seeking is over.
to curl inside your chest
for just a little while.
There is much to say, and no knowledge of how to say it. Forgive me for the lack of focus. I only hope you finish reading this knowing I am in your debt.
Much of my life has been spent struggling with this feeling, like a secret bursting at the seams to be told, but coupled with so much fear of getting caught that, ultimately, the secret dies in the keeper’s throat.
One year ago, I began to feel different. The fluttering was still there, oh yes, but it had moved from my throat to my chest. It felt like I was being torn apart on the inside, ventricle by valve. So what did I do? I fought, of course. The loneliness had been safely harnessed in my throat, effectively silencing me my whole life. Suddenly, the animal wanted out. I couldn’t let it. Because if I did let it out, there’d be nothing left inside me, and I already felt so hollow.
This was when I made a decision. I chose to let things happen. I opened my cage and closed my eyes and waited for the parades of tourists to mock the botched pieces that composed me.
But something happened that, in all my emphasis of claiming I knew myself, surprised me: I wanted someone. A girl. A girl I’d never met. A girl whose words flowed through my veins in place of blood. And the more I fought it, the deeper she got. I pulled away, but it was as thought I had bound myself to her, and she had no choice but to follow.
You know of whom I speak.
She is as valuable to you as you are to her, whether or not you are aware of it. She often speaks about you and your mate as though she owes her life to the two of you. I’d never tell her otherwise… but I wonder how much you two realize that she is vital to you. Yes, you two would live on regardless… but she has been nothing but a faithful servant. Please don’t think me insensitive. I know that you at least acknowledge her and the role she plays in your existence. But as her mate, it bears repeating.
You and I share a bond: we both serve the one we love. And perhaps that’s all I needed to say. My hand desperately had to write this, to write to you. I feel close to you in a way I’ve never felt close to anyone before. Do you think that means we owe something to one another?
There’s more, other things to say that, in time, will be said. But for now, it’s enough to thank you for this gift you’ve given me.
I trust we’ll speak soon.
- – -
Love bites. Love bruises. Beware.
I will not dissuade you from your path – it is mine as well, after all, and you no more chose to walk it than I did. But be cautious in your footing and do not rush overlong when you have yet to see what waits beyond the turn. Step lightly.
You are right: we have much in common, you and I, as do our lunar paramours. I too was blindsided by that feeling of being torn apart and yet knit together at the same time. The fear of hollowness; the fear of being filled and consumed. Neither could I pull away, drawn like a helpless magnet caught in an ancient force. Yet you have avoided the vices and demons which plague myself and my own, and will continue to do so if you are willing to fight for each other. Look to the one you love; she is yours to protect, from others and from herself. We are guardians and servants both, and you hold wells of strength of which you are not yet truly aware.
I know you would have us see the worth of her, and we do. I promise I respect the gravity of our debt. You must be patient, though. It has been just the two of us in this tale for so long, and such a tragic tale… we lose track of everything beyond our sorrow, sometimes. And you know He is not the kindest of men, especially toward those to whom he feels indebted. He fears her love, just as he fears mine.
Change is coming, Little Flame, and it is our duty to anchor our beloveds lest they be overwhelmed and undone. Have faith and hold fast.
In my dream the ghosts reach out to you with electronic tendrils, seeping through the ether(net) to slip filament lies through your veins and into your brain, and even though I’m begging and pleading, yelling and screaming, I can see the digital glamour glow in your eyes and you’re already turning away, ears blocked by whispering static, fingers poised to craft a reply that will only feed the specters, only make them stronger.
A confession: I did not read last night like I said I would, after you fell asleep. I was going to, I swear, but I could not take my eyes from you. The curve of your bare shoulder, the arch of your neck, the coils of your dark hair piled upon the pillow… I could not look away from such beauty. I never thought something as simple as the meeting of copper skin and black hair at the nape of your neck could fill me with such painful, glorious longing. I never thought I’d want to run my fingers along the curled shell of someone’s ear; to press my palm to warm, silky flesh and feel heartbeat beneath, and the gentle rising, falling of slumbering breath. In these moments my love for you feels overwhelming, like it has filled me completely and must spill over as laughter or tears or something, anything, I can’t contain it all. I live for these moments, you know. I live for any moment with you.
is this the “honeymoon” phase?
they’re wrong; this is love
Assassin’s Creed and cuddling
oh my god, we’re gross
I’m taking donations at the Queer Prom registration table, waiting out a lull between packs of gangly teens dressed from debutante to punk rock and everything in between, when the love of my life comes over, braces her hands on the table, and mutters, “They think I’m a bouncer or something; everyone keeps looking at my like this” – making a petrified face beneath her half mask – “and showing me their hand stamps.” I grin up at her from beneath my own mask and reply, “Well, you look like one. What do you expect?” She rolls her eyes and wanders back to her station at the gym door, where between handing out raffle tickets she’s also unwillingly become the door keeper.
“Is that one yours?” The volunteer beside me, a nurse in her sixties manning the table with the help of her long time partner, fixes me with a knowing smile. I can’t help the grin that splits my face as I nod and reply with pride, glancing over her shoulder to where my beloved stands, “Yeah, that one’s mine.”
I’ve been watching her all night, stealing glances between taking cash and explaining the sign-in process to eager prom-goers. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to admire the subtle balance between feminine and masculine in some of tonight’s attendees, but my girl takes the cake. She’s dressed in black pants and a crisp white dress shirt beneath a fitted black vest, shirtsleeves rolled up to show the black leather vambraces laced up her muscled forearms. Her face is hidden behind a black mask bordered in tarnished gold scroll work and framed by dark, wavy locks of hair through which I’m dying to run my fingers. She does look like a bouncer, back straight and legs planted firmly, and I know I can’t be the only girl here tonight who can’t stop staring at her in hopes of catching her eye.
Is that one mine? Fuck yes she is, and not a moment goes by that I’m not humbled and awed by that knowledge. Maybe it’s the symbolism of this night, a first prom for her and the only one that will ever matter for me, or maybe it’s seeing so many kids comfortable in their own skin and with their chosen partners in ways our generation was never allowed, but I’m suddenly overwhelmed with love for this girl. I want to tell her I’m proud of her, the way she stands stiff-backed and alert, my guardian, my warrior goddess. I want to tell her she drives me crazy with her curves and muscle, silky copper skin and calloused fingers, the unkempt hair that nonetheless falls in perfect waves. I want to tell her she’s the most beautiful damn thing I’ve ever seen, and the bravest, fiercest, sweetest person I’ve ever known. I want to tell her she’s the one. The first. The only.
I don’t tell her these things, though, at least not in words. What I do is jump up the moment my shift ends, grab her hand on my way past, and drag her into the pulsing noise of a dark gym packed with people just like us. We find our own little pocket within the crowd and share the dance for which we’ve both been waiting years; the first dance, but not the only. All the things I want to tell her, I say in the way I hold her against me, in the way we sway out of time with the music, in time with our own.
bound by the red string of fate
sister and stranger
how wood and wire speak to you
goddess of the strings
I give the abridged story
we share knowing smiles
–and then we are standing together, her and I, the sorceress resurrected, and she is showing me a sleeping kingdom wrapped in magic and thorns, a kingdom like her own which she offers to me, a gift, my very own land to rule as I wish, yet she is old and weak and I see this is her last attempt, she knows she can’t slay me but thinks maybe she can lure me away with promises of power and beauty, away from you whom I love so deeply, but I only scoff at her bribery and wake to seek you in a world where, too, the witches strive to part us yet never succeed.
What an ironic curse, a perverted fairy tale, that instead of a man turned beast to punish sin it is a beast turned man to punish the beauty foolish enough to fall in love with a monster. Hah! See how the bonds of affection chain not the beast’s hunger, but the beauty’s heart? See how she struggles not to free the humanity within, but to preserve its fragile shell without? A beast with the soul of a man may remember what it is to love and be loved; a man with the soul of a beast, however, is at core a thing of violence and madness, and no beauty may gentle its captive rage.
we are not living in a fairy tale, we are made of fairy tales, restless blood and enchanted dreams, your soul the brave knight yearning for a respite from constant battle and my heart the high tower within which the captive beauty pines, a wild thing caged with no room to spread her wings, and alone we raged and wept and bled to change our fates, forever to no avail, our aspects as incomplete as the sun without moon, east without west, waging separate futile wars until a twist of benevolent Providence braided our paths, fused our destinies, and now together our laughter and touch and whispers in the dark form the secret spell with which to break the curse on us both, unburden the knight and crumble the tower, so dawn may find our limbs entwined like the trunks of young saplings in a forest grown overnight
writhing in forge flame
liquid silver, molten gold
sunlight and moonglow
You’re like the desert, parched for life-giving rain, longing for sustenance, yet while a drop of affection dries too quickly on your cracked and dusty surface to provide even a moment’s nourishment, a downpour of love cannot soak through quickly enough and so roars as a deadly flash flood through the gullies and pits of your scars, wiping away what weak green buds have managed to take root in the unforgiving soil.
April 16th, 1912
I have only just now found time to write, it has been so very chaotic the last two days. How lucky I am, little journal, that I carry you with me always! I could not bear to think of you at the bottom of the ocean, all my dreams and secrets lost forever in those cold depths. But oh, how many others were lost in such a manner – so many lives we still do not yet know the full count!
I have never been so frightened, dear journal. At first they would tell us nothing of any use; when I asked if something had happened to the ship the crewmen treated me as if I were a child asking silly questions! Mother and Father told me not to worry, but there were many among us as restless as I. When it was announced that those of us in first class should head onto the deck (think of it! on such a cold night!), many people began to argue and spread rumors. I overheard someone say an engine had died; another that this was simply a drill and would soon be completed; someone even claimed we had hit an iceberg and were sinking!
At first I did not believe such dramatic stories, but then the crewmen announced first class women and children should board the lifeboats. I did not think, even then, that a mere drill would require such drastic actions, especially in the middle of the night. By then my fellow passengers were in a panic, and the rumors became truth – we truly had struck an iceberg and the Titanic, that purportedly unsinkable ship, was foundering beneath our feet. If we did not evacuate, we would surely go down into the black waters as well.
Journal, you will think me foolish for my actions, but I swear I acted without thought. One moment I was standing by Mother in preparation to board one of the lifeboats and the next I was running through the crowd, pushing my way back from the deck and into the dining room. I had to find her, journal. That was my only thought. I had to find the girl I had traded glances with over dinner, smiled to secretly as she placed a plate before me or refilled my glass. I did not know her name, had no way to find her on such a great vessel, but I had to try.
In the dining room, where chairs were overturned and meals left half eaten, the serving maids had gathered in fear. No one had told them what to do; I doubt anyone gave a thought for the staff in such a crisis. And there she was, my angel, my beauty, doing her best to calm her fellows and soothe their fears. I should have left her to her duty, perhaps, but as I said, journal, I could hardly think for fear. I grabbed her hand and pulled her with me, saying nothing to her surprised questions save that she must come with me, that we must escape the doomed ship. I remember little of our flight, only that her hand in mine was very warm.
Somehow we made our way through the crowd and to a boarding lifeboat. The crewman assisting ladies into the boat would have let me pass, but he held his hand out to my companion. Even with the deck tilting beneath our feet, still he refused to let my companion board with me, citing her lower class. You would be proud of me in this moment, at least, journal: I squared my shoulders, put my hands on my hips like any stern matron, and told the man this girl was my servant and that if he expected a lady like me to travel alone, and refused her admittance, then I too would remain on the ship. How white he turned, journal! Sometimes I am quite grateful for my station in life. He let us both pass without another word and we climbed into the lifeboat.
Oh journal, I cannot put to words how it broke my heart to hear the cries of fellow passengers as we watched the ship sink beneath the waves! Surely it shall haunt my dreams for many years. I turned my face into my companion’s shoulder and wept, and we held each other through the long, cold night. I do not know what I would have done, had I not had her by my side. We have been inseparable since.
Those of us who survived the sinking (so strange to call myself that – a survivor!) are on a different ship now, one that shall take us the rest of the way to New York. I have promised my companion she shall have a place in our home, for I cannot bear the thought of parting and swear to keep her close as I may. If this harrowing experience has taught me anything, it is that we must keep close the things we cherish, or risk losing them when least expected.
I will write more soon. You remain as always, little journal, my confidante.
I carry no blade
yet still I shall protect you
my words my weapon
sharpened to a razor edge
forged to pierce the heart and soul
Let it always be this dawn
your gentle fingers grazing my skin
mouth seeking sweetness and heat.
Let it always be this day
your jeweled eyes dancing in the sunlight
joy overflowing in precious tears.
Let it always be this dusk
your head heavy on my shoulder
moon gliding in and out of obscurity.
Let it always be this night
your firm arms drawing me close
body molding itself to my shape.
Let it always be this.
Let us always be this.
push and pull
drag and draw
caught in your undertow
friction and pressure
the deep melt
worship passed with tongues
pale elixir, honeyed wine
every breath a prayer
You think about it too, don’t you?
I feel helpless, like I came too late; like I failed her.
I’ve felt that guilt as well. It can be… weighty.
What did you do about it?
First I fed it to my sorrow. Then I fed it to my rage.
…how would you do it, if you could?
We’ll never get that chance.
No, most likely not. But for them the willingness counts as much as action. It’s a rage sparked by love, fueled by the urge to protect and avenge. They understand. There’s meaning enough in the desire.
It still haunts you, though, that you weren’t there to save him.
Just as it will always haunt you that you couldn’t keep her safe.
If I ever had the chance…
I know. So would I.
I have seen you, muse, in your gilded cage, the iron bars and patterned glass through which you watch the world. You are safe within that cell, or so at least you’ve convinced yourself to justify the years already wasted in limbo. At least inside the only monsters which can reach you are those of your own devising, the uncertainties and miseries come to plague you nightly. Still, surely you must hear the note of longing in your voice? Sense the tugging of your songs to slip between the bars and ride free upon the wind? You think you need the safety of the cage, yet even I can see how your restless wings shiver in longing for the sky. If I were to unlock that door, open wide your cage, would you burst from your confines and take to the air or would you crouch down on your perch, more afraid of the unknown without than the familiarity of imprisonment? I promise you, dear one, there is beauty and wonder beyond those bars like nothing you could ever imagine. Danger as well, yes, and heartache, but is the gain not worth that struggle? You need not venture forth alone; see, I will sit here just beyond the open door and wait until you step over the threshold so we may go hand in hand into the wide world. I’ve wings strong enough to lift us both until yours remember how to glide.
I would venture into the dark forest for you, brave the monsters of which we do not speak, the old vengeful gods of sacrifice and punishment which leave their marks over our lintels by night, for in the light of day you’ll see they are but creatures of flesh and blood, as easily cut down as us fragile mortals, and cut them down I shall to lay the felled fell beasts at your feet, my hand outstretched, and when you join yours to mine I shall draw you away into the conquered forest where we will reign as kings, gods, lords of the green hall, and never more shall the shadows hold sway over us.
You starved from lack and loss and they buried you in a crossroads grave, nameless, forgotten, but I have always known you and I built a cathedral upon that axis, monument and beacon both, sentinel and soul’s vow, and therein I have waited all these long years. To you, lonely spirit seeking the shelter of belonging, the embrace of completion, my doors are always open, and barred tight against those who mean you harm. Cry sanctuary! and fall into me, let me hold you to my breast and smooth away your tears. Specter no more, take a drop of my blood and a tear from my eye and resurrect like a phoenix from your ashes, sister to my own heartbeat, lover to my own breath. Be reborn as the goddess, the angel, the Valkyrie with blade in hand; and I shall be your temple, your holy ground, your Valhalla.
You call my name as if
I am the first sight of land
the last mountain to climb
the longed for oasis
calm center of the storm.
You gasp my name as if
I am standing on a ledge
staring into traffic
walking away from you
when I should be running toward.
You whisper my name as if
a decibel may shatter me
a breath may scatter me
or the wrong word simply
wake us from this daydream.
If I once had wings, as you say, what have I done with them? None of us seems used to the burden; the one scorns while the other mourns. And I, for my part, cannot even remember their weight, nor the shifting of muscle and the rush of air. No, all I remember is the fall, the endless plunge of which I dream so often. So how are you so sure of the existence of that which left not even scars upon my shoulder blades? How can you name me such a thing of beauty, I who have always been mortal and fallible? I comfort myself by believing love has blinded you, or perhaps you simply see what you need after years of fruitless searching. You cannot see the truth, surely.
And yet I must admit, to you if no one else, there are times when holding you I almost feel… almost recall… could almost swear that more than arms embrace us in this bed.
If my soul is a book, then for years I have been tearing out the pages and feeding them one by one to flames, rivers, the ocean, the wind, ripping and tossing, leaving fragments strewn in my careless wake, and yet now here you come with the scraps, the ashes, the smoothed out remainders of crumpled passages cupped in your hands, clutched to your breast, weeping openly for the beautiful, terrible tragedy of words I could not bear to read.