to shade my eyes with love

she reached up to shade my eyes with love
to shield me from myself
to distract me
to remind me
to take me as quickly as possible back to kindness
to turn me away from that twisted dark road
I was staring down
preparing myself once again
for that mean journey

and her arms from there dropped and enclosed me so easily
so naturally and softly
that I never even questioned them being there
never wondered at being held so sweetly
so gently
feeling the violent soft strength of her
by such
a wild
beautiful
creature as she

she held me back to me
so firmly
and resolute into the curve of her neck
that I turned my head
wanted to rest there in her richness
and depth
the scent of her summer skimmed skin filling me up
and drawing me down into her undertow

but my cheekbone began to rattle against her collar bone
and my mouth skinned back tight into the skull’s
timeless gaping grin of grief
my teeth jumping against her throat
sloshing liquids
my body doing that silent diaphragm stutter dance

and then I was afraid to pull away from her
afraid she would see the hideous
raw skeleton I had become against the calmness of her compassion
how she had split me open so easily
so quickly so simply
had distilled me down to elements

salt
oxygen
snot
water
bone
time

then without pulling away from her
but finally still again
and with no small amount of fear
I set my worn carpetbag upon her heart’s table for unpacking

it sat there but she did not look at it
she knew its contents
did not need to actually see

I pulled out fear first
a small squarish package
wrapped in thick new crispy brown paper and knotted with twine

as I placed it upon her table
she picked it up and began to work silently at the tight knot
never looking at me
giving me that privacy
the next gift

she knew I would not join in helping her
with a knot I did not want undone
so instead I reached into the bag and pulled out shame next

shame was a stack of slices
bound with frayed-ends twine
another knot
unlike fear in its stiff newness
it had no wrapping and was old and worn
the little square slices curled at the corners
like a bound stack of old flat used dry tea bags

each thing in the bag was set upon her heart’s table
some things expanded upon their exit from the bag
growing bigger once brought out into the light
she reached for each
opened each
careful not to tear
not to haste
with practical deft hands and kind breath
incanting over each
eyes moist with understanding
she gently set each one free
of its bindings

standing rigid scared timid
eyes wrinkled shut
afraid to look at the mess I’d made on her generous table
afraid to breathe
afraid to be seen by her

she placed her cool hand on my jaw
waited
silent
and the calm melted my sight back
even reached my heart
I returned to find her smiling eyes
looking into mine
which she then turned toward the once laden table

and to my great and grateful! surprise
found that each mean thing
had just flown away
launched
into love
under her care-full breath

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