copyright Erin Aurelia, 2019

You didn’t come.

I sat in the rain

            Under blackened skies

Bones soggy with fear

            So full of it the marrow

            Had leached out long ago

Promises were made

            I had been given to understand

But they were lies

            The skies told when   

                        The sun shone

Bedazzling light deceives

            Wears sharp points –

            Sunrays like teeth

Punctured my skin

            (Sweet rain, let me in)

In your absence

            The rains came

            And so I welcomed them

            And their clarity

And they welcomed me

            With their ferocity

And drove me down a marrowful river

            As the storm called my name

My bones know now you’ll never come,

            But my ears are no longer

Pitched to your voice

I’ve decided to be the Lightning, and

            Take the Thunder for my lover instead

I showed this poem to someone who asked me, is it about your ex? I replied yes, and also more.

It is about my former spouse because he didn’t show up the way a loving husband and father should— he didn’t accept and love us as we were, for who we are. He didn’t support our heartfelt endeavors. He wasn’t patient with our shortcomings, or forgiving of our mistakes. And when we confronted him about these things, and the ways in which he’d made us feel small and worthless, he didn’t show up to do the work of repairing himself and his family. He was physically present every day, yet never present in the ways which mattered for healthy, loving, safe relationships. That, it turns out, was never his intention. I feared the loss of his love without knowing yet that I lost it over and over, daily, even while he mouthed loving words to me. It is the worst kind of way of being abandoned, to be left every day, to watch him hold himself out of reach while dangling himself before us, implying that if we were only good enough he might show up after all and give himself fully to us. He never did. The times which appeared pleasant were part of the ruse, the great manipulation, meant to keep us close enough to want more, to feel as though his love were just about to happen, until another rage blew in, or he iced over. He held his love over our heads, as though promising we’d have it if we’d jump high enough for it. I finally realized it was never there, that narcissists aren’t capable of it, and that sociopaths enjoy taunting others with the false promise of it. And so we left.

This idea of not showing up is also larger than one person. It is also about the notion of romantic love that society and the media sell us, especially girls, being regularly spoon-fed stories of happily-ever-after with Prince Charming, the Gallant Knight, the Savior rescuing the damsel in distress. Because it isn’t real, that fabrication can never show up, can never save us, from wherever or whatever we’re taught we need saving. So long as we believe that tale, that lie, we remain under those blackened skies of learned helplessness, and never build our own resiliency and strength. We remain perennially afraid, and waiting.

The storm is the realization of having lived under a lie, and the sweeping change that brings, both internally and externally. Everything changes when the lightning flash of understanding illuminates the terrain in all its hills and valleys, all its oases and deserts. Once we’ve seen, we cannot unsee. Truth is not soft, not cloaked in warm tones of breaking sunshine, but stark and gleaming, like bones glowing under moonlight. The lightning is also the heat and force which burns down those structures in which we find ourselves seemingly trapped, our freed-up agency driving us beyond outmoded ways of being. The thunder is the sound of change, the call to rise up and take a new path, so insistent and resounding that it drowns out the voices which can keep us contained and small. The rain is what washes away the confusion and denial that can keep us stuck, and all that clarity can become a river we can ride to the open skies of cognition and determination, as well as be a river of life which can flow through and resurrect us after seeming death.

More personally, the lightning is the flash of Imbas, the old Irish word for poetic inspiration, that fire in the head which awoke in me again when I freed myself from the bondage I’d lived under. It came back to me when I reconnected with what moves me most— music. Music is my thunder, my heroin and my lover. It helps me hear the words from the inside, instead of the voices from the outside that criticized and shamed me. Where those voices held me down, music lifted me up. Where those voices abandoned me to the dark, music sat with me there, comforting me and keeping me company. Where those voices judged me, music welcomed me. And now I am fortunate to be part of a community of local musicians who welcome and appreciate my poetry, so much so, that a few have offered to collaborate with me, and one day, with one of them, this poem is to become a song. Lightning and thunder…words and music.

Thanks for reading.