LOVE AFTER LOVE (Derek Walcott)
“The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. (emphasis added)“
Hello again my dear friends. I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite poems, “Love After Love”, by Derek Walcott. It has been a long time since we last communicated and in the last 4 years, I have been busy greeting myself at my own front door, over and over again.
Truly greeting yourself, and deciding to love the deeps depths of your physical being and all the colors of your soul, is not easy. If it were, there wouldn’t be so many self-help books and Instagram quotes about it. A few years ago I was dealing with a lot of personal struggles and when I came across this poem, it inspired me to really love myself, really love my life and somehow obtain a level of happiness that I wasn’t sure even existed. I didn’t know how to even start. I saw this poem as an internal goal that I would probably never come close to achieving but something I still hoped for.
The timing was never “the right time” to fully feast on my life. I thought I needed to grow professionally, build on my life goals, strengthen my close relationships, work on a healthier body, and learn to forgive past pains. Don’t make the same mistake I did, as I have spent years waiting for the right time to fully embrace myself, my life, my love, and my happiness. It took me creating life and finally experiencing unconditional love for another being to realize that it was possible to have that same unconditional love for myself. Me, loving myself unconditionally, is still a project I am working on but the time has come where I can finally greet myself with elation. I feel more beautiful, more vibrant, more alive, more significant than I have ever felt before. After years of always hungering for more, today I am feasting on my life.
If you are waiting for the right time, I challenge you to greet yourself every morning, as sometimes the minutes in-between each sunrise can minimize your strengths, make you question your values, re-examine your relationships…still feast on your life. Know that you can continue to grow professionally, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally while loving yourself without any conditions and limits. Welcome both the changes and constants in your life. Praise yourself like you would your best friend. Forgive yourself like you would a close family member, who would never apologize for any wrongdoing, but you forgive anyways. Little by little, time after time, take back the pieces of your heart, whether you had given them to an unappreciating lover, unapologetic relationship, unfulfilling job, materialism, or a higher presence that left you empty. Return the pieces of your heart to yourself, for you are most deserving of your unconditional love. And one day, I hope you greet yourself with elation and feast on your life until your heart is full.
For some people “will you marry me”
Is not a virgin term that escapes from their lips.
It serves to be only the tip
Of the matter that leads to disaster
And they wonder why, you wonder if
“I love you” is just a script
That seems so easily to drip from their lips.
For some people there is no “one and only”
Forever only you will hold me
Forever and always is just a trick tease
That speeds up your heartbeat
And then passes by
Just like a quick breeze.
And they wonder why, you wonder if
This love for you will also soon cease.
There is that reality that before you
There was her.
There was laughing and kissing
That had his toes curling
And ears ringing
And it was her name he was singing
With praises so high.
Her shadow follows your every move
From the way you cook to the way you clean
To the words you say and
How your actions may seem
To be like hers
Or maybe nothing like hers
If it suits his mood.
This may be a good or bad thing
Depending on memories it may allude
Like the times he missed her so much
He could have cried
Or the way her hair fell in waves
Before it dried into
The strands of joy that would caress his face
In the same bed
That he invites you to share with him.
And in the quiet moments
I get to thinking
And all the ways he used to love her, sinks in
To my brain, my heart
And I can’t stop, once I start.
He used to kiss her lips with a fever
Erased all doubt from her mind
And made her a believer
Of his words, his touches…
And the ring on her finger
A memory that still lingers
In the box that I found near the bed
Leftovers from two people unwed.
And he wonders why, I wonder if
An ending between us could occur
When I don’t have to look far to see
That before me, there was her.
She was the wind beneath my wings
Before I even knew how to fly.
She kept my feet on the ground
And my eyes toward the sky.
If I have touched your life in any way
I just want you to know,
You have my mother to thank,
For I am but her shadow.
She taught me how to love
And some say, I have her laugh.
Every step forward I took,
I took on her behalf.
Everything I do, I do it for her
Because she gave her life to me.
She gave up her country, her family, her friends
So that I could know, what it meant to be free.
The fear of persecution,
I will never have to know.
For bearing the burden for me,
She is the greatest of heroes.
I may grow up and change the world,
Degrees may decorate my walls,
I may witness beauty few have seen,
And travel to more places than I can recall.
But the joy of loving my mother
Will be the greatest of these things
Because without her sacrifice,
My life would not have wings.
(c) 2012 ksoranna
Personal Note: Other mothers may be great, and wonderful, and loving…but my mother is one of a kind. She left her family, her friends, and her country at the tender age of 15 and joined a resistance movement against the Communist Party. Against all odds and with the help of God’s grace she survived and escaped from starvation, a jungle terrain, enemy capture, and civil warfare to bring me into this world. On foot, she traveled from Vietnam to Thailand and from there, to the Philippines, where we were finally given refugee status by the United States. Thousands shared our journey, but we were part of the only 200 something, who made it.
Scientist used to say that it should have been impossible for a bee to fly and until recently, the bee’s success was a mystery. But the saying goes, that a bee never knew that it wasn’t supposed to fly, so it flew anyways. Like the bee, I never knew the “impossible” because my mother showed me that the “impossible” does not exist. I came to the United States as a refugee, without even a birth certificate to my name. I didn’t even know a word of English when I started Elementary School. I grew up on the lower socio-economic side of town by parents who worked multiple jobs, knew very little English and did not have a high school education. Statistically speaking, I should not have made it very far in life, but my family never believed in statistics…so I graduated high school with honors, became the second Montagnard female to graduate from a four year university and went on to law school. I am currently working in the legal field and serve as an advocate for a non-profit organization that speaks out on human rights issues. Every success I have had, was because my mother believed in me.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mother and all the other mothers out there. May you also serve as the wind beneath someone’s wings, so that they in turn can become heroes and have the potential to some day change the world.
Hotel room stirrings
Sprung on by chocolate dreams
And a muscadine high.
Lips on mine
Before I even realize
Butterfly kisses melt into
Birthday wishes and
Walls crumble as
On buttons, zippers, and
My eyes linger on the view
That readies my body on cue.
My waves crash against the shore
Meeting the hardness of your core.
My goal, to release your energy
Into milky, white dreams set free.
(c) 2012 Ksoranna
What if…two simple words
That have haunted me
Like a shadow
Clinging to cobwebs
I cleaned out long ago.
In the back of my mind,
You never left, always there
Reminded by dimpled smiles
Of strangers unaware,
Of their resemblance to you
In the way that they walked
Or in your favorite color, blue.
I can still hear your laughter
Carried by the breeze.
Still remember “Because of You”
Played on piano keys
With the same fingers
That traced my face,
Tucked my hair behind my ears
And expertly removed lace.
I can still feel you
At night, you enter my dreams.
You waited for me to come to you
Like in blockbuster movie scenes
Where the girl always gets the guy
And it’s never too late
And love always wins
No matter how much they tempt fate.
But I am not an actress
And time has moved fast like
The tide stealing sand from the shore
This emptiness I saved for you,
I can no longer ignore.
Memories of your love
Still capture me,
Like the moon, I’m caught
Inside your gravity.
Please, release me,
Set me free
From shadowy cobwebs
That still haunt me.
Oh how I feel so free,
I could fly, I could sing,
I could dance to Mordor
And bring back Frodo’s ring.
I am coming for you!
I envision your beautiful smile,
The way your laugh lines crease
And your dimples show.
The way you throw your head back with laughter;
Your joy had me at “hello.”
I can’t wait to run into your arms
Sewn with muscle, enhanced by lifting
Built for strength, yet softened by kissing.
I will tell you everything that I never could before.
I can’t wait for the look of surprise when you open the door.
Oh what shall I tell you?
What should I say?
And forgive these simple words,
For I know they sound cliché, but…
I can’t even start to explain
Why I love you so much.
It’s like a liquid fire inside
That can only be extinguished by your touch.
When I open my eyes and see your face,
My joy, I cannot hide,
My feelings, I can’t erase.
Each day I love you more and more,
As the pounding of my heart reveals
Out of my mouth comes unspoken words
I can no longer conceal.
I am coming for you!
My heart pounding so fast,
I can barely breathe
In and out…I count to ten
Over and over and over again.
My movements a blur,
Like I forgot how to drive.
I can’t crash and burn
I’ve never felt more alive.
I finally get to your place
And I stop…breathing
I really can’t …breathe.
It’s like I am choking on silent sobs
Of thunderclouds filled with paperweights
Every breath I take
And from my eyes
A tempest rains
Down my face
With teardrop chains.
Finally the wail of a hurt animal
Escapes from my cottonmouth lips.
Who was once my sun and stars,
Is now my lunar eclipse.
Please lightning strike my eyes
So I can no longer see.
He’s smiling and hugging and kissing her
And that girl is not me.
He never even knew I was there
Never knew I came for him.
I left what if behind
Only to think of what could have been.
(TOO BE CONTINUED…)
I used to be engaged once
To a man with the sweetest heart, the softest lips,
And the kindest eyes.
He made me feel complete,
My heart stood still
And my stomach carried butterflies.
Oh how I loved him so…
He had this laugh that rose from his belly
And filled the house with its sound.
He smelled of a natural freshness and lotion
I could breath in his scent forever
And happily drown.
He told me I was beautiful
With every moment he could spare.
There was never a doubt in my mind
How much, for me, he truly cared
But something held me back
From saying “I Do”.
I gave up all his love and more
To chase dreams of “what ifs” with you.
(TOO BE CONTINUED…)
Craving your body all through the night
Kissing you, rubbing you, holding you tight.
Skin on skin, eye to eye
Tender touch so soft from inside.
Your tongue on my neck, lips on my breasts,
Leaving my body in eager unrest.
Entangled among the sheets, entwined as one
Leave all thoughts behind, let our bodies have fun.
I fit every inch and every curve.
You caress my spot and tickle every nerve.
Slowly whisper softly to me
And guide me to the point of ecstasy.
Hear the moans you can’t ignore,
As I say your name and call for more.
I look at you and I am reminded of
With their guarding bees
That I tried to taste so expertly.
Yet each drop of honey was not enough
To quench my thirst
Or dry my lust.
So again and again, I would take my chances
Of freeing my aching sweet tooth
With those tempting leaves
Guarded by those stinging bees,
Until I got close to filling my tongue
With that ecstasy,
And I felt the pain of those jealous bees.
And even now, I’ll never know why,
I couldn’t get enough of you,
With your guarded heart
And those frequent lies.
But looking back, I clearly see
You were nothing but a temptation of
Honeysuckle leaves with their guarding bees.
How does it feel, man child
To bring the beasts of the earth down
To watch them fall to their knees
As if begging you to spare their life.
Do you feel powerful, holding a weapon
So deadly that it pierces muscle…
Made for running from predators,
Jaws with a 5,000 pound bite force,
And trunks strong enough to lift trees from their roots.
Do you know that they were once mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters
That they once hunted, fought, loved, and walked the ground with footsteps so heavy
It shook the earth upon which you now stand, aiming your gun.
As these beautiful creatures gave to you their last breath,
Did you notice the color of their eyes,
The curve of the water buffalo’s horns,
Did you count the spots on the civet’s fur coat,
Did you appreciate the width of the elephant’s ears…
Or did you simply cut off it’s tail
And pose for a picture.