Winter Soliloquy, Seven Years Thereafter

A peony, at first,

Although, past the stage of symbiotic stinging ants,

Who returned en masse, after,

Burnishing, a dying, flower.


When he left me so suddenly, the only choice I had was

To go back to the beginning,

To close my petals tight,

To reverse time, like one of those slow motion films of flowers opening,

Playing backward.

But, we can never go back in time in anything but our imaginations,

Can we.


I was, a magnificently opening blossom, one of the most stunning

Of all flowers,

Endlessly layered, radiating wanting, and

Rose rose rose were my still pre-menopausal lips.

But this was before, before, before

Tree-shadows-sweeping-tornado like destruction,

Hovering menacing green boughs arched over dark waters, I was

Caught unexpected, in a fierce storm,

Way, too far out on the water.


So, I did the sidestroke, the backstroke, the crawl,

I floated, trying not to fight the currents,

I did everything I could think of,

Everything learned so many decades ago, in that swimming pool,

In Brookline, in 1959, and

Everything learned since,

Everything, everything, every single thing.


I flung myself through raging waters.

Gray swirls reflecting the gait of the sky

Above me as I splashed, unwavering, straining to see the shore.

Where was the shore?

Where was the shore?


I was far out far out so far out past safety,

past past past I was so far past, I was propelled into the future

I was nowhere I had ever been before,

In this, lifetime.


While he lingered.

As he lingered from the beginning.

When not diving, deep deep deep,

Into my opening,

(I had never before let any man this close

But what can I say

I came to him as a blooming peony),

He jumped away, came close, jumped away, close, back again, away,

He was like a fish leaping out of the water for insects just above the surface

Jumping higher and higher

Until he was amphibious sprouting small legs,

A mudskipper, a lungfish, convergent evolution,

Forefins and skin that breathes.


When he followed me into deep swirling beautiful waters with the sun high above us,

At the same time the moon was rising

And the moon and stars visible in the sky

In the middle of the day, oh my God,

He was there but only for a moment.

How could anyone be

In the place that is the center of the universe

The entire cosmos

For only a moment?


Suddenly, in the middle of all of this

Appeared kayaks, green, blue and aquamarine.

Softly around me silent people paddled.

They were my only hope and so I reached out, arms raised, implored,

O please please pull me in, take-me-away,

Far away, from this first love of so many years, whose

Penis was soft as a rose but whose heart was encased

Beneath quills like those of a porcupine.



There was not a lot I could see, without my glasses,

Except the water

And the endless darkening sky.


The silent ghostly kayakers drifted past

Although I could hear their paddles moving through the water.


They stared through me,

Or was it me,

Through them?


I do not think they were from this world.


So, welcoming those tentative wings along my side as they unfolded,

Soft soft skin growing into feathers, neck collapsing, crown nape ear receding,

Pink soft mouth into slender hard beak almost the length of my body,

Two still lovely childless breasts miraculously free from surgical removal,

Merging into ribs, above a soft bird belly,

Long legs shrinking, femur, patella, becoming tail,

A rudder to help me balance and steer,

I rose with a skeleton even more porous than my human osteoporotic one.

Five toed arched feet with 24 bones and 33 joints into four tiny claws,

One human toe remaining, because of course I have become what I am,

A hummingbird.

Lastly, finally, my arms morph into wings,

940 bright radiant iridescent colored feathers,

And I fly away, leaving him,

This first man in so many decades,

This foundering flounder of a man,

Leaving him like the fish he was not.


Rising up from the water

Winging over ancient kayakers,

Toward the swimmer’s beach

So many years alone to come

So many years alone to come

A world of green green solitary beautiful forests.





It is much better to be a leaf hanging alone,

Than to be



That is



© Susan Lynn Gesmer, Winter Soliloquy Seven Years Thereafter.

August 2009 – July 2016

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