At least this year he doesn’t have to spend hours looking for a Valentine’s Day card that doesn’t say “I love you.”

Where you saw a red flag, I found a cushion.
The words had been said to me before.
And hadn’t I said my share too?
More confession than promise or pledge.
The syllables we remember barely resemble those said.

Just letters representing sounds,
compounded into patterns struggling to
give solid form to the
phantoms and fumes
that cling evasively to the seafloors of our souls –
unspeakable things better left unspoken.

In the end, it was his action I read all wrong.

Mistaking caution for care,
when over and again he said he didn’t want to hurt me.
I misconstrued carnality for affection; pity for concern.
I confused his trepidation with tenderness and his generosity for devotion.
Believed the sharing mattered more than the secrets,
that our friendship trumped the unreasonable rules of romance.

It didn’t matter what he didn’t say
so long as he wanted me part of his every day…

dried-up rose

Miranda’s father waited until the day she was born
to say the words.
Their power was not potent enough to protect me from
the cruel weapons he hurled without hesitation
when I finally swam for shore with our girls on my back,
away from his sinking ship my love could not repair.

Time has a way of tearing our best intentions to bloody shreds.
Today’s right thing is tomorrow’s regret.

Don’t try to make sense
of the dating rites of the mentally ill.
It is a haphazard lattice of quicksand and landmines
laid by the injured in unconscious trauma.

Spare your lecture in the obviousness of clues.
There are warning signs on the way to heaven.

I was more concerned for him than me that
after six years of increasing intimacy –
habituation still lacked inhibition.
Even when the warmth of my love appeared to penetrate his permafrost,
I never saw him slip
from the balance beam he walked between
compartments so precisely erected.

He couldn’t relax even as my nurturing hands
kneaded tension away.
So many evenings I watched him pass directly from tension into sleep,
breathing still unsteady,
words muttered not meant for the living,
not at peace even in rest.