Stand Off

Chadbury Telephone Pole 150128

You were humming that muted tuneless song,
the one you use to soothe yourself at times of hurt.
It closed you off, restored your dignity
cruelly broken into angry shards
on the hard stone floor.
It offered a moment of retreat into a familiar place
that only you knew, which only you could enter,
and which would be forever inaccessible to others.
A song not able to be stilled or interrupted.
That song must run its course;
a tuneless dirge that spoke volumes.
Quiet rebellion with eyes averted,
the cessation of contact,
providing a hiatus in which to recover.
Though you never fully recover.
We never fully recover.

Where did you learn to do that?
Did it grow from la-la-la-ing
to barricade yourself from unwelcome news?
Did it come from turning the music up so loud
that you could no longer hear the fight
in the next room?
Do you just not like arguing?

I never used that ploy.
Hurt, I would retreat behind hot wet eyes,
go swimming in misery, self-inflicted,
seeking a secret satisfaction.
My attempt to invite the comforting arm,
the concerned half-melted voice,
a forgiveness lubricated by tears.

Our slights and fights unthinking, never fair.
We each brandished our own mental scourges .
And discovered the hard way of healing.
Breathless, nowhere else to go, depths truly dredged.
Time out – no more battle – no more suffering.
At least, not until this one was worn smooth
and kissed good night.

Alas, you could no more find your way
into my secret hiding places,
than I could venture into yours.
Every impasse, each cracked communion
would add its increment of bitterness
to the ever-rising mound
in the space between us.
We watched it grow, becoming less inclined to yield,
until we could no longer see each other.
Both right, yet both wrong,
where right and wrong became irrelevant.
That day we became lost,
each in a separate secret world,
no song could ever rescue.

We could not rebuild the bridge that we had burned,
nor swing on that rope
over the chasm which had opened up between us.
Had we forgotten how to?
Or had we simply each become so obstinate
that no appeasement would ever be acceptable,
or even last?

© Peter Young 2015



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2 responses to “Stand Off

  1. The closing down of two-way communication is a painful thing – so vividly described here – with the deflating sense of isolation that often accompanies it…


  2. Acute observation of the detail of a failing relationship, ‘the muted tuneless song’ and ‘a forgiveness lubicated by tears’. Some sharp descriptions too like, ‘each cracked communion’.


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