Happy Ending

When your lover moves on completely
there is always grief
amidst validation and relief

We’ve been apart
longer than we were together
Sweet reunion
I am reminded
of his virtues
deep voice
respectful use of space
gentle energy
the uncanny way he reflects back
my words
shows he listens

I am reminded
of his faults
the slow pace
taxing my patience
infrequent eye contact
threatening my visibility
the energetic wall
and silent lack of permission
to do or say all of me
I can now name it

We dined on headlines
bullet point and updates
We had apologies, gratitude and well wishes
for dessert
I’ve been replaced

She is better than me
not better quality
a better match
It matters not if a puzzle piece
is buffed, beveled, perfectly shaped
and cast in solid gold
if it doesn’t fit
where it aims to go
tabs and indentations
don’t compromise

I don’t envy her indentation
(that’s not where he filled me)
nor do I covet his presence
affection remains, and history
not chemistry or compatibility
I regret
no one has yet to fill the him-shaped space
he left behind
There is no me-shaped hole
in his life

I return home satisfied
yet mourning the loss
of his possession
and my belonging
I’m living the alternate timeline
that ended well
I am absolutely alone
we are absolutely over

I sweep off the passenger-side floormat
where his size 11s left dusty prints
I delete all our texts
from all those years
I discard the final memento
not out of spite
but completion
to hold on feels disrespectful
to all three

What is this grief and gratitude
contentment and wishing well
among loss?
It’s the absence of resentment
a symptom of path rightness
living life’s gambles
to their inevitability

I don’t miss him
I miss us
miss the lost happy ending
arriving home
a completed puzzle
in my mind
I covet that piece
I have yet
to find.

© S. Rinderle, 2016

To the Woman Who Came After Me:

Do not forget your lineage
where you fall in the chronology
I am the one who prepared your way
cleared a path in the tangled thicket
of his heart
filled and smoothed over potholes
in his healing
cleared ragged cobwebs
from his mind
my body was a bridge
between his pain
and your happiness

If you breathe deep
you’ll detect my scent
on everything he touches
it was his broken words to me
he picked up
and handed to you
whatever pleasures you share
we practiced first
we rehearsed
the scripts and lines
he utters now
he called me Love
long before you

Remember your place
He only beat me to the end
I only regret my patience
He is a garment
a not-fit
I do not miss
but first washed, mended, folded
and put away
If I pine it’s only
for loneliness
not for him

I neither want nor need
your pity or sympathy
just your acknowledgement
I had as much to do
with your life today
as he does
that I called you sister
before you called him lover
that I washed
the dirty laundry and
weeded the garden before leaving
that my heart bled
into the sacrificial chalice yours drinks from
that my very flesh
served you
warming your nights
cooling your anxiety
that I
perfumed your entrance.

It was I
You will never be able
to repay your debt to me
so pay it forward to she
who comes
after you.

© S. Rinderle, 4/2016

9 Regrets

one
that I coaxed his childhood
to lay on mine
But more that I never made him
the wooden car
I promised in exchange

two
that I never returned the wooden hanger
a kindly neighbor lent
to scavenging teens on a mission
on condition of its return
I said I would
I proved a stereotype

three
that I never risked being slapped or ostracized
by talking back
speaking true to power
when it mattered
I was already bruised
and pariah

four
that I missed her stormy adolescence
preoccupied by my own trauma
of premature adulthood

five
that I didn’t lose my virtue
to my beloved at 18
I let years pass in yearning and hope
only to find him again
changed

six
that I didn’t turn around
go back down the ramp at LAX international
fleeing home
borne by honest tears and indignation
abandoning him in response
to his abandonment

seven
that I didn’t give Margarita
my silver hoops when she asked
it was so little to me
so much to her
she’s 35 now
or died years ago
when her people rose up

eight
that I didn’t leave sooner
give up more easily
say no more often

nine
that it’s taken this long
to know I was right
all along
and all my regrets
were pauses.

© S. Rinderle, 11/2015

Elemental III

But
I’d turned down the volume for you
dimmed the light for you
spoke in hushed tones
plumped the pillows for you
waiting for you
to finally come home
You never did.

Now the mute button is off
pillows tossed
and I light up like firecrackers
4th of July
the day your rocky façade began to melt
fast and messy
like cheap birthday candle wax
when the wish takes too long

I have returned to fire and earth
Your weakness no longer my burden
your cowardice no longer my guilt
There is still love
but also consequence

I have reverted to stone
yet I am weeping water too.

© S. Rinderle, 2015

Elemental II

My fishlove
you weren’t ready
you were the water
I drank, at first refreshed
for I was the rock
solid and sure
you would cover me
fill my cracks
linger in my dented depressions
make me the centerpiece
of your calming pool
while I grounded and contained
your evasive fluid

Instead, you were runoff
unchanneled
flowing away
gathering debris
pulled by gravity
downhill

So I became alchemy
transformed into water
to match your chaos
slacken your fleeing
with countercurrent
a river round your stoic rockface
to nourish and moisten
your stuck stones
to free movement

Instead you broke apart
when winter threatened

I guess
it’s not the fault of the water
for shattering the rock
when she follows the seasons
and freezes inside
nor the fault of the rock
for his ancient fissures
formed by heat and stress
over time.

© S. Rinderle, 2015

Elemental I

You can’t force the visionless to see
they have to be ready
You might pry their shielding hands from their eyes
they will clench their eyelids shut
You peel open their scaly eyelids
they turn away and shudder
double over and cower
to block the intruding light.

You can’t make the uncherished feel loved
until they’re ready
Your hands may soothe beaded brow
lips dry teary cheeks
arms cocoon tender insecurities
honey eyes perceive, unjudging
yet they refuse
shake it off
like unwanted moisture
numb and unconscious
to their stubborn armor.

You can’t convince a skittish child of safety
until he’s ready
Contemptuous, anxious mother
impatient, hard-to-please father
the game is long over
the lonely, dutiful child still hides
defers himself
you seek, prefer his Self
draw near, yet he fades
into misbelieving shadows.

(c) S. Rinderle, 2015

Sirens

I navigate this ocean of men
in my rowboat
a cool pre-dawn mist
blankets the briny deep
blocks the post-storm horizon
I see them floating
scattered like flotsam
the wreckage of formerly noble vessels
mutinied captains
who once commanded crew in fluid synchrony
towards shining horizons
compass and looking glass in hand
now marooned in their watery purgatory
aimless
and dazed

Some lie on their broken masts
and moan
others push themselves across my purposed bow
like swollen carcasses
hoping to convert my pity
into their salvation
still others grasp for the sides of my boat
clawing at the boards
I bent, hammered and tarred myself
from my own girlish wrecks

They feel entitled
to my generosity and grit
they mistake my gender for service
hoping to taunt and insult me
into compliance
they envy my life
above the unrelenting waves
I pry their feckless fingers
from my oars
leaving them in my wake
along with my guilt

These men are b(u)oys
signaling shallow danger
redirecting my course
I heed them as warnings
left by women before me
How many women before me
have made passage here?
Will those who follow
be fooled
by the unworthy captains I set afloat?
Will they heed the markings
I left behind in those b(u)oys
deceiving eyes
cowardly lips
weak chins
and feeble hearts?

Will they hear my sister siren call
guiding them to abundant seas
like the echoes I hear now?

Long nights always pass
sunrise breaks inevitably
across my face
I close my eyes
deeply inhale warm breeze
infused with fruits and flora
I follow the gulls to shore
to find a new captain
one whose ship is well-caulked
decks swabbed
larders stocked
strong mast and eager sails
charting a courageous course
parallel to mine

I am grown now
salt-cured and wiser
This time I will be less hasty
keep my rowboat sea ready
listen for the siren calls
and search his skin meticulously
for the warnings other women
left behind.

© S. Rinderle, 2015

Lonely Hollow

I know you, emptiness
I’ve tried to fill you with distraction
denial
and bad habit
still you appear
unexpected and uninvited
at the most inconvenient hour

You show up even when I’m strong
stomach well-fed, limbs well-rested
mind stimulated by discovery
heart nourished by laughter and confession
my friends are many and dear
I enjoy my solitude

You show up anyway
a hollow in my torso
that crowds my heart
an uneasy absence
a misplacing of something
I can’t remember
an unanchoring in my timeline
I float
unaware I’ve drifted

Loneliness

A most particular yearning
an easy smile to come home to
or greet in my doorway
that accepting gaze to relax, unravel in
that does not look away
reliable shoulders to share this yoke
of grinding minutia and terror of change
eager arms to welcome, contain
like yin and yang
curl up silent and safe
when all goes dark
that kind voice
to bring welcome surprise to my monologue
needed stability to my see-saw

Loneliness
I will leave a light on
invite you in
I will prop this hollow open
with stray beams and intention
lest I fill you with too many meditations
too much activity and resilience
I will hold your space
lest I allow you to collapse
under too-tight agendas
despair, or common apathy

I will allow you to be
so he has a place to enter
a space to fill
I will allow you to ache
so my stories don’t turn
into lies
I will allow your emptiness
so my gratitude has a place to reside
leaving room for abundance and joy
when he
finally arrives.

© S. Rinderle, 2015

2 = = <3

Today
is another distance marker
on my freshest trail of grief
a date
full of 2s
but for me
only 1

I walk vaguely familiar streets
with our ghosts
echoes of warm torsos and laughter
I throw myself on a heap of our memories
piled cold and soiled like city snow
face down
sudden tears on a four month delay

Tell me
where are the men with the power of discernment
who recognize the difference
between working too hard
and not enough
at connection?
Where are the men with the power of intention
with clear, soft gaze
who believe in their own longing
creating their desired destiny
in love?

Tell me
where are the men with the power of wisdom
who understand the heart
as all sacred forces
moves in dark tides
like the moon?
Where are the men with the power of maturity
who are willing and able
to know their soul
and mine
to comparable depth?

They are scarce, you say
a wild species out of season

I say give me just 1

So tell me
where is the man with the power of courage
who comes equipped
with tenacity for the long trek
strength to match mine
and a ready smile
for optimistic adventure?

Where is the man with the power of commitment
who yearns to abandon himself
but never me —
who needs no convincing
that love is its own gilded reward
and I am unequalled
treasure.

Tell me
where is the man with the power of faith
undeterred by the unknown path
who can imagine far enough ahead
to triumph?
Where is the man with the power of adoration
who I need not ask
to proudly display my likeness
compose me a love song
look me in the eyes when he says I love you
and make others wait
because I am his number
1?

Tell me
Where is the man who would be my equal?

Tell me
where that powerful man dwells
and I will call him forth
I will be faithful
for the remainder of my days
gifting the fruits of my hands
the jewels of my heart
the light of my eyes
that our mutual abundance be multiplied
our mutual souls
ever more joyful
and tested

Tell him
I weary of dreaming
I stand ready to embark on the noble journey
that is our birthright

Tell him
I am still waiting
I am the chalice of his quest
Tell him
I will call him
Beloved.

© S. Rinderle, 2/22/15

Sueños Imposibles

I wish
I could see all the people I love
living in one city
at the same party
I wish
I could take the perfect parts
of all my lovers
stitch them together
and live together happily ever after
I wish
I’d had an easier childhood
with happy parents who delighted effortlessly
in my authentic existence
I wish
I’d learned years ago
to love my deepest most obvious flaws
and to savor my glorious talents
I wish
time would pause when I wanted
or fast forward on command
I wish
I knew when you were going to show up
so I could maintain
my patience
Life has granted me abundant wishes
like a powerful genie in a generous mood
all but these
and even so
I find myself contented
inside their impossible bondage

© S. Rinderle, 2012