by Elisabeth Weiss
What should I say to you, lily of the valley, jumper of horses, holder of turtles who still swim in our ruined tower? What more can I give after peonies bloomed from my mouth and held the hand of the condemned? Wasn’t that enough? Should I begin again without an introduction to who we were, or should I just ease my way in like a bandit past clocks and figurines?
The last time I saw you, you thrust a bouquet into my hands. “Take this,” you demanded. I listened. Was there reason to hesitate? So strange really, how cruelty and grace intertwine. We were thrust into the same tide when you let go of the lifeboat. I called out to you, water filling my lungs.
You ignored what I call erosion, this unsettledness of carrying one day into the next. You glistened in the sulphury smell of the afterwards. You insisted that you be leader under the snow moon when coyotes howled a mile beyond where the river turns.
You never taught me how to hold my breath. Our only similarities were our knee scars.
You were born into the love and violence all around us. You didn’t have to serve at the temple of inexhaustible goodness. You could be absent minded as you made your way through the twists of labyrinths and grottos leading to the abandoned serpentine mine.
You were my persecutor, my first, who received me from misfortune without reconciliation. Therefore, the triumph. Can you remind me again, of the blows given from behind, which secrets between us were we sworn to keep?