23 September 2013


My heart broke once
and you were there
to hold me. You
took me by the hand
and told me I was
strong enough to
survive. But now
my heart broke twice
and you were the one
who broke it. This
time there was no
one to hold me
when I cried myself
to sleep at night.
How can I survive
when those who broke
my heart were the ones
who were supposed to
care for me when
my heart was broken?

10 September 2013

Heart of Fire

Listen to the MUSTN'Ts, child, listen to the DON'Ts.
Listen to the SHOULDN'Ts, the IMPOSSIBLEs, the WON'Ts.
Listen to the NEVER HAVEs, then listen close to me:
ANYTHING can happen, child, ANYTHING can be.

The old woman sat in a chair with a blanket over her lap. She stared into the fire and did not move when the girl walked through the door, setting the bell tinkling. The girl approached the old woman, her footsteps muffled by the dusty carpet. She knelt beside the chair and clutched at the woman's thin arm. Her skin was papery and soft, and the girl could feel the warmth that emanated from the crone. She looked up at the wrinkled face, cast in inconstant shadows from the flickering light of the fire in the hearth. Saying nothing, the girl just waited for the old woman to acknowledge her. They sat in silence that stretched longer than the girl thought she could bear. A single tear ran its course down her pale cheek and dripped off her chin. The tiny droplet landed on the arm of the woman, between the girl's fingers. As if a spell were broken, the old woman turned sharply and looked down at the girl, her eyes flashing red in the firelight.

She stared at the girl, her red eyes boring into the green ones that looked up at her with such pleading, such pain. Then she lifted her other hand and traced the track the tear made on the pale skin. ‘So you have come,’ she said in a voice that sounded as dusty as her carpet, ‘At last, when there was nowhere else to go.’ She continued to penetrate the girl with her gaze, cutting through her defences as with a knife, and seeing into the heart of the matter. ‘It hurts, doesn't it?’ she whispered. The girl dipped her chin in mute assent, and the woman nodded as well, turning back to the fire.

‘It will lessen,’ the woman said, her eyes mirroring the dancing flames, ‘but it will not go away. You have a heart of fire, child, and that is a terrible burden and a great gift. Do not be discouraged, though. You must try a little harder than others, and it will take you longer to get there. That is part of the price of fire. We who are gifted with fire burn hotter than the rest, but it happens in its own time. The world will heave and turn, spinning on its axis, spinning through space, and the years will pass, but that means little to the Fire. The Fire comes when it will, as it will, and does not take notice of such trifles as time.’ The old woman closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She could have been asleep, or dead, but for the warmth of her skin and the very slight sound of her breath. Then she continued.

‘Your heart is young, child, and it is still kindling. The pain you feel is it coming alive. Life is pain, child, and we come to this world in pain, and we live all our lives in pain, and someday we escape that pain, but only in death. Those with the gift of Fire feel more than any other. Pain is ours to bear, and ours to cherish. It is our life that we feel pulsing within us, and the way we know we are still moving forward. I will not lie, child, it is a terrible, wonderful thing to have a heart of fire. But you must accept that it is your lot in life. You must accept the gift.’ She paused as the girl gave a barely audible sniff. ‘But pain is not all we are gifted with, child.’ She lifted the girl's chin so she could look her in the eye. The old woman's gaze softened, and the light that gleamed in her eyes blazed forward with warmth and comfort. ‘Pain is what keeps us grounded, but that does not mean it is all we have. We also have greatness. You must seek out what your fire wants to give you, and you must pursue it with all your heart. You will be rewarded for that, and well. It is only when we understand great suffering that we can truly appreciate the world; it is only when we make great sacrifice that we can truly treasure that which is good. It is not an easy path, child, but it is yours to take. And if you do, I promise, it will be worth it in the end. I know you cannot see it now, you can feel nothing but the pain of the new fire inside you. But fire is cleansing. It is pure. And it will never lead you wrong.’ The old woman let go of the girl's chin and turned to the fire once more. When she spoke again, her voice was thin and distant, like it came from very far away.

‘If you accept your heart of fire, it will serve you well, child. But it must be accepted freely, without reservation. Otherwise the fire will die. The pain will leave, if that happens, but everything else will leave you as well. Your life will turn to embers and ashes as the fire in your heart dwindles, until one day it is snuffed out completely. Your body will still live, your mind will still function, blood will still pump through your veins and breath fill your lungs, but you will love none of it. You will feel none of it. So you must ask yourself if you can accept the gift and the burden that have been given to you. They are yours alone to bear, but if you accept them, you will not be alone. Fire gives life even as it consumes. If you accept your heart, you will find greatness. I cannot tell you more, for I do not know your path. But the reward always surpasses the sacrifice, and you, child, will burn brighter than any I have ever seen.’

The woman stopped speaking and grew very still. The girl stared at her, watching her pulse flutter in her throat. After what seemed an eternity, she rose from where she knelt by the chair. She stared into the fire and saw shapes appear in the flames, dancing and whirling. Pressing a hand to her chest, she felt the warmth radiating from her, calling to its own. She took one last deep breath, then turned and left the room. The door tinkled again as it swung open and she was blasted with a gust of cold air from the street. She squared her shoulders and pressed her hands together, as if in prayer. And in the moment of acceptance, she felt the warm glow in her chest spread throughout her entire body. She sighed, and began to walk down the street.

Listen to the Mustn'ts © Shel Silverstein

09 September 2013

Better Stories

Her body tells many stories
To those with eyes to see

Every scar tells a story
This one of the time she fell

off her bike. That one of
a fence on a playground and a

gate not quite open. There are
other scars as well, stories

that go deeper than childhood
trifles. The thin line along

Her right wrist. The burn
between her toes. There are

stories that not all eyes
can see. How she turns her back

in a crowd, or how she freezes
just for an instant when

approached on her blind side
by an unfamiliar man. These stories

are told by scars. Scars she
can trace with her fingers.

Her being tells many stories
To those with hearts to know.

Not every story is told
by a scar. Not every story

catalogues a hurt done to her
or a wound that healed. There

are other stories told of
happiness, of closeness, of time

spent breathing in life. The beat
between words that lasts a fraction

of a second longer than it
used to last. The turn of phrase

said in a fit of laughter. Her secret
smile when someone touches her face.

These stories are wrapped up inside
her heart and her head, clasped

close to her, cherished. But only
seen by those who look for the signs

of being loved. Of loving
freely, openly. And truly.

Not every story is told
by a scar. Some are more

subtle. But she is made
of all of her stories.

And those who can see
beyond all her scars

will see that she loved once,
and well. And was loved in return.

06 September 2013


I have hidden our secrets
In a box on the back shelf
Of the closet, where I cannot
Reach without standing on something.

All of our secrets are wrapped
Very simply, plainly, in fact
And packed up with care.
They are safe on that shelf
From prying eyes who might
By accident spill their contents
To the world.

We do not have a ‘we’
Anymore that means both of us
Now are two separate ‘I’s
Bound with thread of memory

What is on that shelf
In the back of my closet
Is locked up in my heart
Where no one else can come close
To touching the places
Our secrets are resting
They remain undisturbed
And my lips remain closed.

Someday that dial may be turned
By an expert hand that will know
The numbers and codes
Our secrets will then see the light
Of the world, but only in halves.

02 September 2013


Remember the night spent
Under the streetlight
Clinging to you
Like I was drowning
Touching your mouth
And your chest and your hands
My head filled with doubts
That made me reluctant
To want to go on
Because running is easier

I am not running now
Just walking, and slowly
My heart in my hands
And my chin to my chest
Wanting is not
Enough of a reason
To stay, or go back
When the world crashes down

Again I am drowning
But not with desire
Or fear of a monster
Lurking just out of sight
But with pain and regret
And a sense of foreboding
A wish I could change things
Go back to the start

I do not for a second
Apologise for
That moment our lips met
Under the street lights
Saying yes to my heart
Has never been easy
Taking what I want
Has never felt right
I did not fall
But rather I jumped
Into love with you
On that wonderful night

It is over for now
And I must continue
Forward despite wanting
What I can't have
My heart aches and my mind
Is weary with wishing
If only I could
Stop feeling so deep

The marks that our love left
Are still open wounds
But the scars that I sport
Show I am tough enough
To wait out the healing
Though it may feel like forever
What we started that night
Was the greatest adventure
I have ever been on
And I would not exchange
All the moments we shared
Just to end this pain.