And No Further

there comes a bend in that road,
where time halts for tea and a cigarette,
and probability rushes off into the narrowing distance,
blurring wishful untruth and cold circumstance,
that’s how long love, even real love,
can hold its bruised breath,
that’s how long you can chase the subjunctive,
that far and no further;

grandma taught me a game once,
played with five brown cowrie shells,
tossing one into the air,
and scooping up the rest,
before it dropped neatly,
a delighted ping in the middle of her
small age crusted hand,
you have to know how to throw it, she’d say,
too far and it will angle away,
too near and there won’t be time,
always that far and no further;

and the evening I made deals with a god
I did not know, I could not see,
just give me this full night, I bartered,
and you can hand me an empty forever,
he smiled with his faceless face
and sighed through his formless form,
what colour is that benevolence?
here, he said, dropping the sun
into the organza pleats of the sea,
tonight will be longer, stars will outshine the moon,
but even your love, even real love, can take you
only that far and no further;

but alone is not alone when it smells
of ash and reheated tea,
and the past clatters on mosaic tiles
like broken cowrie shells,
frightened stars peek from behind
emboldened clouds, pregnant with day,
stacks of what might have been
stare back at you with familiar eyes,
memory keeps the mind on a tight leash,
and love arcs back to your lips no matter
how high you throw it,
how will you forget to remember
you have to dream to size,
that far and no further.

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44 thoughts on “And No Further

  1. Sigh. Love the last stanza, with so many lines of verse, that I would love to have written, myself, Thotpurge, I can’t just single one, without feeling, I have slighted the others, by doing so.

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  2. This is fantastic, the limits we must set ourselves to claim sanity.

    “grandma taught me a game once,
    played with five brown cowrie shells,
    tossing one into the air,
    and scooping up the rest,
    before it dropped neatly,”

    I remember that game; as a child, we children (mostly girls) if i remember rightly, we played it with small clean pebbles

    Have a lovely Sunday

    much love…

    Like

  3. “that far and no further;” most of the time it’s best to know one’s limits yet this mind dreams of beyond 🙂
    “dropping the sun / into the organza pleats of the sea, / tonight will be longer, stars will outshine the moon,” soooooo love this…

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  4. “Even real love can take you only that far and no further.” Wow, this poem is a wonder. I love your grandma teaching you to throw the cowrie shells, which turned out to be a rather big life lesson. I really love this poem.

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  5. “that’s how long love, even real love,
    can hold its bruised breath . . . ”

    The cowrie shell game seems an unfair comparison with hope, love, dreams–and yet, it has grown on me, the randomness of the measure, the exactness of the skill. If there were a formula, I would use it carefully–and every now and then “forget to remember”–maybe while in a kiss! (How’s that for a subjunctive?)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautifully executed. Accepting our own limitations is a lesson we must all learn. Many don’t and end up old and bitter. Far better to accept that the state of being human is perfectly imperfect. Your imagery is fluid, as are your words. Your love of craft shines throughout. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

    Elizabeth

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  7. too far and it will angle away,
    too near and there won’t be time,

    In life that’s how it had always been. There are choices yes, but still it will end up in not having a choice at all!

    Hank

    Like

  8. It may well be so…. I almost don’t mind what you say, when you say it so enthrallingly. What a beautiful imagination you have!

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  9. Awesome:

    “there comes a bend in that road,
    where time halts for tea and a cigarette”

    “that’s how long love, even real love,
    can hold its bruised breath”

    “here, he said, dropping the sun
    into the organza pleats of the sea”

    “memory keeps the mind on a tight leash,
    and love arcs back to your lips”

    Like

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