J

She told me to break your hearts
with words.
To have no mercy
with my thoughts.
Her smile was always timid.
I knew immediately
she’d spent years with a man
used to getting his own way.
She was intriguing from the start.
Maybe it was the motherly air
she kept around her.
She told me stories
of 19th century serial killers
and abusive Mexican husbands;
of beautiful daughters
and doe-eyed dogs;
of altering your world
with your own mind, and
getting your say
even while being sweet.

She made me think of
chicken soup and
cool hands on fevered foreheads.
She made me feel
visible
to a mother’s warmth;
worth it.

Is it any surprise
I’m drawn to darkness?
She carried hers differently.
It was a part of her,
not a burden.
It was weight she was
happy to carry.
She fed it
Bukowski and Borges,
Tennessee Williams and
tales of woe.
She let it grow;
tended and kept.
She never expected pity —
only an ear once in awhile.
She recognized her
gifts, but expected
no praise.
It is
what it is.
We are trapped
inside ourselves, she quoted.
She was never afraid of my darkness;
she basked in it.
Did we recognize the look
of a broken soul?
Some damsels just love their own distress.

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