Death rattles labored.
Time grows too short for living.
A bluebird sings life.
Death rattles labored.
Time grows too short for living.
A bluebird sings life.
It was a chilly few weeks in our apartment after that Sunday night. We weren’t speaking and avoided each other as best we could. I made him sleep on the couch and I left early in the morning so as to avoid him as best I could. Of course, he worked late so I rarely saw him at night.
I met Jess for dinner on Wednesday night as we had planned. I told her all about the fight . . . it was good to be able to talk with someone about my marriage and my unhappiness. She and I began to meet for lunch several times a week and have dinner together two or three nights a week. After a few nights out, she invited me to her condo after work for dinner and maybe a movie. We would sit together on her couch and one night she put her arm around me and pulled me close to her. I happily responded and snuggled in next to her. It made me feel warm and secure knowing I had such a close friend.
When my colleagues were wondering why I wasn’t joining them for the office Friday nights. I told them my husband and I had decided on Friday night after work dates.
In August Russell left for a corporate retreat in Florida and would be gone the whole week from Sunday through the following Sunday. I was elated that he would be out of my hair and that I would be able to spend more time with Jess. I was feeling closer to her than I had ever felt for my husband.
He left early Saturday for a late morning flight so I had made a date with Jess for the afternoon and evening. We had drinks followed by dinner followed by a nightcap at her place. She closed the door behind us, took my hand and pulled me to her and held me. She whispered in my ear that she was falling in love with me. I shuddered, confused about what she meant. I knew I cared for her as a friend, but what did she mean? I pulled away and she saw the stunned look in my eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “that was wrong of me to say, to say it that way without any explanation. I thought you must have figured it out, that I’m a lesbian and I’m attracted to women. I’m very attracted to you, very very attracted.”
“I know what a lesbian is. I thought you wanted to be my friend, not a lover.” I said more harshly than I had intended, but deep down I felt a warmth arise into my heart that I hadn’t ever felt before, not with Russell, not with anyone. So many feelings then arose, I began to feel dizzy. I liked being with her, maybe I could be in love with her too, but didn’t realize it.
“I’m sorry,” I stammered, “I . . . I’m just a little overwhelmed right now. I’m not sure what I’m feeling. I’m very flattered to know you care for me. I care for you too. You’re very special to me too, but I don’t know about loving another woman this way. I’m just not sure what I feel right now.” Then I hugged her back, I hugged her very tight and my eyes began to tear up and I struggled not to cry.
She pulled back, then leaned in and kissed me. I kissed her back. Then she pulled away again, pushed me to arms length and said, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. It was wrong of me. You are vulnerable and I’m sorry.”
I looked at her for a moment then, “It’s okay. Really. I liked it. It meant a lot to me,” and I drew her to me and kissed her back feeling a warm sensation of unknown desire rising up inside me.”
She led me to her bedroom where we slowly undressed each other, kissing and caressing and falling into her bed. I felt sensations that were totally new. I was twenty-nine years old and had my first orgasm that night.
She flashed her smile to my shadow
before she left that year ago with
no good-byes ever spoken disappearing
like a dream ghost erased by morning.
She led me into that night
of perfumed splendor
to her place by the water
where moss hung from trees
and gators ate their fill
while whippoorwills called,
while silent snakes slithered.
A full moon mourned us
starting what had already ended.
Sorry for being remiss on keeping up with Dana’s story. It has been too long and I hope you readers have not lost interest. Part 7 is underway. Enjoy . . .
Jessica, or Jess, Morgan was an expert witness for an art theft case I was helping prosecute. She was a PhD in art history and ran a gallery specializing in old lithographic prints. She was single, in her late thirties, was tall, elegant, beautiful, and confident.
The case involved the theft of several prints from a private collection by a Chicago industrialist and we met to discuss the case several times over three weeks generally after six when she had closed her shop for the day. A few times we met over dinner or drinks and after discussing nuances of the case, we would talk of other things and about ourselves.
She was a native of Chicago, she had studied at The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and earned her PhD at Columbia in New York. She was single and ran a successful gallery. Her father, a successful businessman, had died in a small airplane crash in Alaska when she was in college. Her mother still lived in Chicago, but she indicated they weren’t very close. She had a brother in New York City and a sister in Portland, Oregon, both married with two children each.
She wanted to know more about me and I gave her the bare basics and moved on. Another night she asked about my marriage but I dodged her question by changing the subject. She didn’t pursue it.
Then, one Friday night, Russell went to his parents for the weekend after he left work right after lunch. He had insisted I go with him, but I refused and went on to ask him how he can take off work early so easily to go to spend time with his parents but never to spend time with me. He responded that he saw me all the time. I said the time he thought he spent with me was worthless, that I wanted his attention, to do things together. It turned into a full blown fight and he left with me crying.
Feeling alone, sad, and needing some company, I called Jess, she was free, so we made plans to meet for dinner. I ended up having one drink too many and my tongue was pretty loose plus with feeling angry and sad, when she prodded me again about my marriage, I let go and told her how unhappy I was and that I regretted ever getting married. Once started I couldn’t stop and I told her about our fight that afternoon and every last sordid detail of my lonely life. I was bordering tears by the time I finished my story. She reached across the table, took my hands, assuring me that that was not the way my life should be, that I should not have to be unhappy and feel alone, that marriage should be a partnership of love, sharing, enjoying time with each other, having fun. I asked how she knew so much not ever have been married and she just said that the right person hadn’t come along and changed the subject.
Her kindness and the alcohol pushed me then into full blown sobs. She paid our bill and got me out of the restaurant insisting I spend the night at her condo rather than going home by myself in the shape I was in. There was nothing left in me to resist her so I walked with her guiding and supporting me, my head on her shoulder, the one block back to her place on the second floor above her gallery.
We went in and I collapsed on her leather sofa and continued my crying jag. She brought over a box of tissues and took me in her arms and held me while I cried every tear I had needed to shed over all the years of my marriage. When my crying subsided into whimpers, he took me to her guest room, showed me the bathroom, gave me a night gown, and helped me undress and get into bed. I fell instantly asleep both from the alcohol and from being spent from crying.
I awoke in the morning, confused in the strange room, not knowing where I was. The memory of last night started to return and the more I remembered, the more ashamed and stupid I felt. I checked the bedside clock and it was 9:30. I had a huge headache. Then the smell of coffee wafted in along with a rap on the door. I heard Jess ask if I was awake and she came in with a steaming cup and sat on the edge of the bed, touching my face tenderly, asking how I was feeling.
I told her about my head and she got two aspirin and a glass of water. She was mothering me and I loved her for it. I needed that more than I had realized. I tried to apologize for last night but she gave me a warm hug and said it was fine, that she was happy I confided in her and not to worry. She gave me a squeeze and left me to dress and join her for breakfast.
I was surprisingly hungry and was treated to a breakfast of orange juice bacon, eggs, toast and more coffee. She suggested we spend the day together and to see the new exhibit at the Art Institute. With the aspirin, coffee and food, I was feeling better and thought it’d be fun. We took a cab back to my apartment so I could change into more casual clothes and comfortable shoes. Then we spent a great day together and we had dinner of pizza and a movie at her spacious modern condo with beautiful art and furnishings.
I met her again the next day and we spent Sunday together walking down by the lake enjoying the spring weather after another long, cold, dismal Chicago winter. She took my hand several times as we walked. I felt like a young girl again. Later that afternoon she walked me back to my apartment and made plans to meet for dinner on Wednesday night.
I arrived home mid-afternoon, happy with my new friend, exciting, smart, fun to be with and fun to talk to. I liked her a lot. Then Russell came in and my happiness immediately faded. He was pissed that his parents were upset with me that I wasn’t with him again and accused him of failing in his marriage, of not keeping his wife in line. He told them that he wasn’t failing his marriage and would make sure I’d be with him the next visit.
I retorted that I was not going to spend my time being around his meddling controlling mother and I would certainly not be with him next time. I went on to again say how unhappy I was happy with him not ever being around here or us doing things together, that I was lonely and felt ignored, that he could take off work to be with his parents and not with me. With that, he glared at me for a long moment, turned with his nose in the air and went to bed. The way he looked at me I fully expected him to hit me. I took a big breath and slept on the couch, got up and left early for work so as not to have to see him more than in brief passing.
Six silent slabs of black surround me.
Is the dark room closing in on me?
Will it crush the body as the mind?
Such vacuum of light sucks life
from my eyes
from my heart
from my mind
from my soul
from my time
to unfathomable emptiness.
Day & night now the same.
am I alive
am I dead
all the same
She walked by —
flashing a smile of recognition to
my shadow before leaving that year ago.
No good-byes ever spoken —
she left like a dream ghost
erased by morning sun.
She led me into that forgotten night to
her place by forbidden dark waters
where moss hung from crooked oak trees.
A whippoorwill called from a lofty branch —
snakes slithered silently through tall swamp grass —
gators awaited their fill on the muddy bank below —
a full moon softly beckoned us to begin what had already ended.
how does a poem mean
asked the coyote who
appeared out of the desert night
I responded that a
poem’s meaning was
based on the coyote’s dream
of the next Rexroth or
Ginsberg to determine
why the wind blows on Mars
or of the next Pound or
Dickerson to determine why
we laugh at the sun and cry at the moon
and why we are alone
in the universe surrounded
by the drama of our karma life
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