An Ancient Story of Farewells

B& W M on beach fire

Your absence pierces me.

In this world wired
and quivering with connection

to feel the pulse of solitude
and truly yearn for one who is absent,
is a small stanza
in a long and ancient story of farewells.

It tells of trying to contain
a dark and fertile passion
that rises, as a tide
turbulent — beautiful — unceasing,
across the vulnerable shoreline of our lives.

There is no denying it.

I imagine the wives of sailors long ago…
biding their lovers good bye –
urgent embraces, their bodies and lips
already kissed
by Loneliness, and
hearts aching with the impending void.

How could they breathe?
How…?

Did the pain
ease with each passing day?
or did bits of their souls, captured
on waves,
follow their men out to sea,
sometimes never to return?

Apart from you,
I am gasping for air.

Tide rising, your presence
haunts and presses into me.
Miles between us, nay — lifetimes between us –
yet still I surrender to the longing

Collapsing into the arms of my ancestral sisters,
my soul is set with theirs,
out upon the water.

©  Martha Lee Phelps

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