Sylvia And The Water

sylvia water

Nothing prepares you for the quantity of love.  The words of the poets are only sips at the fountain, forever overflowing.  The songs of the minstrels cupfuls you might carry away.  And even the tales of happily ever after we tell are merely quenching moments.  For love is vast, beyond endless, and no one who slips into its waters can see its depths.

Sylvia Harrow had spent the lazy Wisconsin summer bathing in it like a pampered Eastern princess.  Lounging leg long, submerged to her shoulders in warm and wet, her head back in conscious sleep, lost in the languor of what could be their dreams.  And she would slide forward, slowly sinking, denying her instincts, letting the water touch her face, hold her hair, cover her mouth until she closed her eyes and willingly, wantonly allowed herself to drown.  And lying there full still, soundless, the water told her that she was the Venus he said she was.  She was the one fantasy she saw in the want of his eyes.  The moment of naked desire that only the two of them would ever know.  And he, flawed perfection, was the one enough she had ever wanted, the aching hunger she had glimpsed more than once but had never fully seen.  He was the never alone again, the warm regular breathing bed, the first touch and the last kiss goodnight.  And then she would raise her head like an emerging goddess and feel the wet run down her face, shake her heavy hair, point her painted toes and, mouth half-closed, gasp a breath as if it was the finish of the world.

Sylvia loved being loved and being overpowered by it, but she knew that, slowly upon slowly, the water would cool, the mirror glass surface murk with age, and the steamy mists fade on the breeze of years.  There was no naïve that could convince her otherwise.  But she also knew, deep in the forever sound of his idle laugh, the step she knew from far away and the single scent of him on the pillow, that this would be enough.  What she felt right now would be enough to fill their life with eternity and the waters that surrounded them would always reflect the stars, splash with the rain, freeze and thaw and sparkle in the brilliant sunrise sunshine.


Valentine’s Day — Fiction


On the first night, they blew out the candles and whispered in the suspicious darkness like spies unravelling their secrets.  The tip-wary waiters kept their distance.  And only a lipstick line on a brandy glass betrayed that they were ever there.  Eventually, there was a cloud-careful moon and a long walk through the hotel-crowded streets smooth with the forgotten footsteps of long ago lovers.

On the second night, they found the river, simmering black with dancing silver ridges — so they hid on the balcony and wondered if anyone would find them.  No one did.  And then, when they had nothing left to say, their shadows leaned forward and undressed them, caressed them and covered them so completely with the night that only their breathing remained.

On the third day, they slept deep into the sun, and folded into the bedsheets and their newspapers, they drank coffee and had breakfast and spilled the orange juice.  They walked past the museums and found a few tales of conflicting folklore from the market merchants who had stories to tell.  Then, as the afternoon slipped into evening, they wandered and wined their way back to the hotel for late night shrimp and avocados.

On the fourth morning, they picked up their telephones from the hotel safe, and when the taxi driver asked them about their luggage, they just shrugged.  At the airport, they phoned the kids to come get them because — after 20 years of Valentine’s Day weekends — Mr. and Mrs. Cooper were not foolish enough to pay for airport parking.

Valentine’s Day — Lovers Edition


In the 21st century, we’re scared of love.  It has sticky bits and awkward edges.  It defies our science and our psychology and laughs at our technology.  There is no App for love, and it refuses to do as it’s told.  It’s the last rebellious relic of our primitive soul.

So, I’ve written a poem for all hopeless romantics (like me) who’ve had a howl and a dance with love — when the fire was bright and the music was high; who’ve kissed in the shadows so tenderly that the darkness held its breath and those (like me) who’ve ached and sighed and laugh and cried — for love.

The one you knew you shouldn’t
The one you thought you should
The one you thought you couldn’t
The one you wish you could

The one that you’ve forgiven
The one you won’t forget
The one who made you laugh and sing
The one you most regret

But when you’re old and going grey
And napping by the fire
There’s only one who has your heart
As well as your desire

Now, let me explain.  (BTW, I’ve seriously mixed up the genders because, even though I believe love is different for men and women, the results are identical.)

The One You Knew You Shouldn’t — This is the one that you took one look at and knew — right away — it was a bad idea.  But you couldn’t help yourself.  Normally, this involves your best friend’s boyfriend or your boss’s little sister.

The One You Thought You Should — That perfect person who, six months later, turned into the Bitch of Belsen.  Or, it’s almost as if somebody photo-shopped this guy’s personality — and it wore off.

The One You Thought You Couldn’t — “Wow!  What the hell was he doing with me?”  Or, that chick was so hot when you slept with her you got a suntan.  Affairs like this never last because eventually these perfect human beings go back to their own species.

The One You Wish You Could — Deep in the heart of 4 o’clock in the morning, we all have that one secret love that nobody — nobody — except, maybe, the dog and your pillow, knows about.

The One That You’ve Forgiven — This is the lover who slam-dunked your heart onto the sofa for three months of red wine, Rocky Road and Rom/Com therapy. But, looking back, you kinda shrug and think, “Ah! It takes two.”

The One You Won’t Forget — Everybody has at least one love affair that flares like a supernova.  In extreme cases, you end up in Vegas or Mexico, swimming in libido, drunk off your ass on moonlight and margaritas, and thinking “When this goes bad, I’m going to burn up on re-entry — but I don’t care.”

The One Who Made You Laugh And Sing — When we were young and our hearts were an open book. . .  But, now, you might have a name but you can’t quite remember the face.

The One You Most Regret — What were you thinking?  You chased this guy relentlessly — even though everybody on the planet told you he was bad news.  Then, when you finally hooked up, she used you like a Swiffer WetJet and dumped your ass in the trash the minute something else came along.  (You’re never going to get that year back, ya idiot!)

And finally:

The last stanza is self-explanatory.

Happy Valentine’s Day!