Her Light

She is

not your spotlight

Focusing attention in the darkness

calling everyone to look

So you see

What it is you can do.

Not your search light

To guide you into harbor

when you’ve sailed your ships

Against warning

Into black and chopped waves.

Not to blame for

Being the siren who lured you back.

She was singing for herself

Not the mirror you held up

So she could see the faults

Not her hand that

Turned and burned you instead

The silence of your fury

Louder than the

Sighs of your disinterest.

Not your torch,

to frighten back creatures

You don’t understand.

She has her own monsters

creeping to her doors

and learning her language.

Carrying torches

Only grinds down

arthritic arms.

She put hers down.

She can’t do it

Too heavy.

The lights are too bright.

headaches are

far too dug in and planted

Photosynthesis the

Power line to

Migration.

Her own screwed in

Halogen

Fluorescent

Mixed white and blue and

Orange

Not matching when seen back

in her balanced eyes.

Her palms aren’t

Scarred and fibrous

As as her heart

to hold the light bulb

In place with bare hands.

It’s low watt but

Still

her fingers blister

fluid leaking

slipping

And she doesn’t have the grip

To twist

Your glass fragile

Illumination

In place.

She is candles and

altars with incense.

Low glow and quiet alone

With her disciple.

One you whispers,

knowing a harsh breath

kills the flame.

Happy in the room

She left dark.

The sun rises tomorrow

Isn’t it pretty to think

So dawn soft

Smoothed hair

Hazy unfocused

hands

Touched in shadows.

Chasing away the light

For just a little longer

Not needing to be

The brightness

But wanted to be

the still silhouette

Casting her own

Direction.

From her light.

Lost Feminist


I don’t think I’m a bed feminist.

But I’m definitely a lost one. 

I’ve gotten so entwined in the idea of being equal that I’ve lost sight of being me. 

Every man I bring close into my life, I find myself eventually treating as a competitor. 

And I won’t even get started on how I massacre my self-worth when I share my world with a woman. 

I don’t want to wage this war. I don’t have a competitive code in my DNA. My heart can’t endure it. 

Until it comes to the person with whom I share my life. It’s not that I want to win. I simply need to be seen as a cohort and colleague, not a student. 

You starting a blog? So will I. 

You learning to cook? Me too 

Becoming fluent in Spanish? Lo mismo. 

And you know what? 

It’s exhausting. I’m barely crawling out of bed with the weight and heft of it. 

Worst? I bring every second of it on myself. 

That’s not feminism. That’s self-defeating bullshit. 

Feminism does not mean being the same. That’s being a middle-school girl. 

I don’t have to play guitar to be equal to my partner. I don’t have to be as strong of a writer. I don’t have to have as much money in the bank. 

What I do have to be is better. 

Better me. Not another version of them. 

Not fitting in and re-informing every heinous stereotype of the the nightmare over-sensitive woman. 

Asking for help, coming for instruction from someone who has had the luxury of education and experience is not weakness. It feels vulnerable but in that is the potential for growth. That’s empowerment. 

Treating a person as their own and not holding them accountable for reparations for every mid-deed I’ve encountered before we met. 

Let them make their own mistakes. I’ll be making mine, to be sure. That’s equality and respect. 

I know there’s peace on the other side. I can see it. The warmth of the light peaking is warming my fingers. 

I have words to give. And love. And compassion. And curiosity. And listening. And a willingness to work. That’s what I have. 

I don’t have to be the same. 

I don’t have to be better than. 

I can be a little lost. 

In the end, I know where I am. 

Light 

My newest Dark Yarn Production. 

This one is light. 

Sometimes there is too much dark. 

My hands yearned to craft the possible. 

A warmth made for hope, for love

with gratitude and longing.

To be given for comfort

without expectation. 

One to protect in coldness.

One to stroke for calm. 

One whose  greatest role

is to be set aside, when

love can do those things

in its place.

For days of light. 

I See Me

I See Me

 

I don’t like to see me.

 

I remember nights of towels

to catch,

blankets

to cover

over mirrors

so I couldn’t.

Catch.

A glimpse was too much.

 

Not the body.

Not the deeper.

I couldn’t see.

 

Loving someone makes

us see.

Us.

Not them.

Me.

The beauty of

the ugly.

What we look past

In our own selves.

To them, visible, a

downy, perfected smooth

under a touch,

when all we see,

feel,

know,

are the raised ridges of the scars

 

If I was looking,

they were looking,

each other in the eyes,

of the same height.

 

I could stand

the emotional

discrepancy.

 

But when the physical difference

is a matter of inches

and the year displacement

is thirty,

 

and it’s your own child,

 

at once

you don’t see your faults

Flaws

Mis-steps

Fuck ups,

 

because they’re not

exclusively yours now.

 

They’re shared in miniature,

not as boulder-ous,

overwhelming,

monstrous,

as yours.

 

But they’re still yours.

And now.

They’re his.

 

He has your eyes.

Your dance.

Your heart

 

And you see

what the

ones who looked in your eyes,

at your height,

saw..

 

Your insecurity.

Your give up at a glance.

Your blame and accuse.

Your drive to be

without

because trying

again

Is too hard.

 

Yours.

Now his.

And you can’t take them back.

 

He yells and stomps like you.

He hurts.

With the pain you know.

Both.

 

I see me,

in him.

I did that.

That’s what I’m meant,

forced,  to see.

 

He sees me,

And knows.

 

I don’t want him to know that.

 

I don’t want him to see.

 

But he sees me.

 

I see me.

 

I want him

to see.

Better.

 

 

Getting Used

 

 

 

Making a tangle of mine
from beauty that isn’t.

 

Getting Used

 

We all get used.

 

Get used by the ones who want

what we fought for or

What we got in the bet

we didn’t have any money on.

 

Used by the ones who promised

to keep and have and hold.

Because you’re alone and it’s 2 AM and

bottles won’t make themselves and

the bottle lost its cork

and bloody nipples

make the milk pink.

 

Fight back,

they say.

Stand up,

they shout.

Don’t

get

used.

 

Being needed is one thing.

But needing?

Don’t do that.

Don’t ever need.

 

You’ll get used.

 

I’ve been used.

 

And now, I’m afraid…

 

I’m getting used.

 

Getting used to having him there

 

Used to asking and assuming

that I don’t have to ask.

 

Used to us.

Used to together.

Used to two pillows,

one blanket.

 

Two alarms,

on one nightstand

 

Used to ‘I forget whose book this is.’

And ‘can I borrow your socks?’

 

Used to ‘just text my mom.’

And ‘I’ll hang out with him while you’re gone,

we’ll be fine.’

 

Used to a voice that whispers

when mine is screaming.

 

Smiles when

all I can do is cry.

 

What if I get used

 

and then it goes away;

 

 

 

how do I get used to that?

 

Isn’t it better,

Softer,

to stay safely used,

unused safe.

 

Back in the corner,

tucked with the other,

like a gnarled ball of yarn,

used,

un-new,

well-worn

editions-

 

knowing our place

taking comfort

in slouched, bent

spines,

folded edges.

 

But I can’t

stay back,

stay away.

 

He picks me up

glides fingers

over me-

sees me,

reads me,

understands my story

and hears my words.

 

I didn’t want love.

 

Now, I’m used to it.

 

And for it,

I’ll risk a someday

soon

on the shelf

for a tonight

a last

in his hands.

Chance horror

for the glimpse

at a last page

with a happy ending.

 

Long novel happy,

not short story.

Time for the characters

to learn, change,

diverge plots

and find their

place between the many pages.

 

Because

getting love

getting close

getting hurt

getting away inside

getting a glimpse

getting to smile-

not always-

but at least once every day,

getting everything

at least

until the yarn

runs out.

As we knew when we bought it

risked the unravel

and started to knit

together.

 

I’m getting used.

 

 

 

 

 

Intrigued by my dark yarns? My new book Drowning Above Water is now available at Amazon. 

It’s Always Something

Like many women of my rapidly advancing age, I loved Gilda Radner. I watched old SNL skits on VHS, while eating popcorn with my dad. He and Gilda helped me learn what funny was. 

When I later became a reader, I devoured her memoir “It’s Always Something”, probably still while eating popcorn. The book was funny and heartbreaking. A passage always stuck with me. 

When Gilda was advancing down the floor, dancing with cancer, she told of lying in bed at night with Gene Wilder. She relayed her memory of once again crying, being scared and needing someone to hold her and make it all okay. 

She revealed, to my teenage disgust, that on one dark and lonely night, Gene could no longer do those things. He too was tired. He was scared. He needed someone to rub his own cheek with words of solace, and make it all okay. 

How dare he! I spat and eye rolled and huffed as only a disappointed privileged teen can. How could he ever consider not being there to the very last curl of his hair for Gilda Radner!

I didn’t get it. 

Now I do. 

I watched my own dad die of cancer. I watched my mother care for him as he slowly did. My father needed the physical care. The mental care. 

But so did my mother. 

It’s not easy to be the caregiver or the partner. I know that. Sometimes, it really is easier to be the patient. As hard and callous as that sounds. 

I watched her do it before for him. Before cancer. She laid with him through anxiety and mental illness. I know there were nights that she didn’t have any more to give. When she was bone-tired from her feet to the end of pin-straight hair. When she needed someone to tell her it would be okay. 

There was no one. 

Last night, I lay there like my dad. 

I was the one hurting. 

Again. 

And I was the one who asked to be held and comforted and coddled. 

Again. 

And I never thought for a moment to consider if the one I was asking might not need some care, too. 

They did. 

I forget. I avoid. I neglect. Not on purpose. Not at all. But because while anxiety and depression hurts. And hurts. And then hurts even more. To have your own brain and body rebel and scream lies. It hurts. I was too busy hurting to see. And remember. 

It hurts to be the one watching. 

It hurts to give and give and never get any return. To reaffirm and encourage and try to lift up someone who seems to only want to drag themselves as far down in the pits as their claws will carry them. 

And that’s what I do. What many of us with unquiet minds do. And sometimes we bring the ones holding us down with us. 

Because it is always something. It’s work. It’s a kid. It’s a bill. It’s a failure. It’s a successs that’s not success enough. It’s a wonderful weekend of love and magic that your brain tells you to fight against for no good reason, only that you can’t believe it actually happened. 

Today, I want to remember. To be thankful for the love I take that is so freely given. Again and again. Even when I don’t see or believe it. To see, really see when someone is watching me and maybe hurting too. I want to go into the pit alone if I need, but alone. And I want to have strong, free arms to grab hold, to keep them from going into the same dark. 

That’s what love is. 

Being there. 

Seeing. 

Believing. 

Remembering every little something.

Malina and Petyr

An excerpt from Drowning Above Water.

“You’re so pretty,” Malina said as she ran her hands along Petyr’s blonde hair. “Your mother must have been beautiful.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t remember. But I think so.”

“I bet your babies will be pretty just like you,” she said.

They stretched out on her bed. He gave her space to move and reposition, but managed to keep physical contact with her skin. A finger on a shoulder, a heel on the back of a calf, but he couldn’t let her go. He looked at her. Her eyes were so busy; so much spinning behind them.

“Did you have babies before?” he asked. “When you were home?”

She shook her head.

“I’m sorry,” he said, kissing her forehead. She didn’t pull away from him, but she didn’t return the affection. That’s how it typically was.

“And what about you, my pretty boy? Do you have any babies?” She grinned as she said it. She knew very well he didn’t have any children. She knew he couldn’t imagine lying with any other woman but her.

“No babies. Only you,” he said.

“Yet,” she said. “You just haven’t met the right girl.”

“You are my right girl,” he said.

“Sweet, fantastic boy. So young. So hopeful. I don’t want you to ever learn.”

“You’ve done well this time,” he said. He didn’t mention exactly what he meant. But she knew. There were no pills in the tin in her purse. She had done well this time. He wouldn’t press her.

“Do you think we’ll be old together?” she said, propping herself up to look directly at him. “Grey and fat and limping? Do you think that will be us?

“Of course it will,” he said.

“No,” she shook her head.” You’ll find some heartbreaking girl…or boy, and run away together and never look back.”

He propped himself up to meet her. “Never,” he said. “I will never run away from you.”

“Then I’ll have to push you away when it’s time,” she said, pressing softly at his shoulder.

“You could never,” he said. I wouldn’t go.”

“What if you had to?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t go,” he said.

“I hope not,” she said. “You are what keeps me alive. And smiling for another day.” There was a knock at the door. Malina groaned and rose from the bed. “Make him wait outside for a minute, then let him in,” she said.

“Be careful,” Petyr said, rising to meet her.

“You be careful,” she said. “This is the easy part.” She squeezed his hand and walked off to the bathroom. When he heard that door close, he walked to the hotel room door, opened it, and made sure to close it behind him when he exited.

Drowning Above Water is the new suspense novel from Alyssa Herron. It is available at Amazon.