There Used to be Embers

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You asked me, quite belatedly,
whether I sometimes still
think about what we had.
And I guess I do, the way
a survivor would look back
on the days leading to
a deeply scarring tragedy
while standing in the aftermath.
I’d poke through the debris
and find the warning signs
I hadn’t seen then, but,
in retrospect, have been right
in front of me the whole time.
The telltale chaos in the silence.
The life-sized truths we skirted
around while reciting
our soaring, empty promises.
There was enough mutual
denial to blindfold the sky.
All the indications of a long,
drawn-out but inevitable end
that I carefully chose to ignore
so we could pretend the world
was ours for just one more day.
And yes, I could watch the grand
denouement again and again
without opening old wounds
long healed or wondering
if there was anything either
of us could have done,
or tried to save.
We divided the drowned
and ravaged world between us,
and one of the coldest parts
of the ensuing solitude
is finding our place
among the same old things
after a devastating storm has
rearranged them. And they say
with every love that breaks
there will always be one
who stays behind long after
the other has reclaimed
their soul elsewhere.
I always thought it would be me.
But here, my half of the world
has been enough. I’ve given
birth to wonders and restored
my faith in the rain. Whereas you
are still laying your head
among spent kindling
and writing my name in the dust.
.

JessicaSim
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Image by photographer Jessica Sim

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