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It’s been a while
since she and I last caught each other,
both with some time to spare
in a place we used to cram chock-full
with warm laughter and conversation

and I savored telling her
all that had been going on
all the roads I had been on
and the places they had led me
told her about him and how he makes me happy
told her that he and I make
a regular pilgrimage
to the temple of our shared peace
and how we work to keep it sacred

and she told me
that she missed the way I used to be
the way I was a rebel soul on fire
with my irreverent questions
and my problem with authority
the way I allowed no man or group of men
to mediate between my spirit and my spirituality
the way there was no legal contract
or holy covenant strong enough
to put reins around my wild heart
and tame it and make it stop running

she said I wasn’t the same woman
she said it with a touch of pity
and the parts of me she missed, she gave names to
meant to pass as compliments:
my “defiance”, my “vigilance”
my “strong character” and “inviolable passion”

but I think what she really
meant to say she missed was my doubts,
my eloquent misery and my being lost

because maybe my settling down
and finding a color-filled quietness
was too difficult to sit with
when she and I had been so at home
among the rusty nails and jagged shards
of our once mutual brokenness
and how we would run to each other for comfort
and take turns cussing out the men in our lives
and blowing shotgun holes at organized religion
and calling the whole world hopeless fools
and vowing we would never be taken

so I pulled a painful thank you from inside of me
and passed it from my hands to hers
and told her I wouldn’t argue
and finally said I only wish that she would find
something she could believe in again
something that might compel her
to be vulnerable enough to gamble again
because hadn’t we only too many times
declared that it was all we wanted?
or does she no longer remember?

and something about the way
we said our goodbyes
told me it was the last time
and we would never speak again.

“The Maid of Honor Toasts the Bride” by photographers Sarah and Joe Holt


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