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

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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

Grief (the second movement)

Ending things
before hatred sets in
requires releasing hope
those things will improve
which requires relinquishing
another piece of that relentless optimism
that makes you
you

I believe anything is possible
What stands in the way
is their will
Since I can’t control their choice
I control mine
and choose to stay
patient
longer than reasonable

I’m not a gambler
except in this
each losing hand proof
the big win hides in the next
I’ve lost years at this table
feasting on scraps
as years grow scarce
like bargaining chips
I finally fold

Better to end things
before hatred sets in
before too much is lost
like faith and stamina
sometimes optimism thrives better
at a distance
than under constant vigilance

Life is too brief
my wiser heart finally knows
I can bear the grief
as well as I stomach the rage
and grief
is quicker in passing.

© S. Rinderle, 2016

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