The Other Side of Love

Photo credit: bored-now via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: bored-now via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Falling in love is one of the most intoxicating experiences life can bring. But what happens when that heady rush of endorphins is misplaced, unreciprocated or ends up just not being enough to sustain the relationship? These three poems look at exactly that reality, providing a prism of honesty to cut through to the other side of the giddy fantasy.

Offering a bluntness as well as wry amusement, they are a splash of cool water on those burning, lust-flushed cheeks.

Worlds Apart

by Maddie Culver

Introduction:

In my early twenties I fell in love with a man 14 years my senior and found myself utterly consumed by my feelings for him. Whilst I desperately wanted to be with him, our relationship never amounted to anything more than a very casual sexual affair, largely due to his unwillingness to commit. For a period spanning over four years, we flitted in and out of one another’s lives, hanging out every week at times, and sometimes not seeing each other for months.

Being head over heels in love, it was extremely difficult to consider disengaging from the relationship. However, after he confessed that he’d been physically abusive to his ex-girlfriend – the mother of his estranged teenage daughter – I felt it was important to stop seeing him. Worlds Apart was written just after I decided to disconnect from him, and is an expression of the pain and anger I was experiencing, as well as the ultimate relief that I felt after finally cutting him out of my life.

Worlds Apart: A Sonnet

When I consider the years that we spent
I tend to think of our time as a dream 
Where living in love was to dwell in regret 
And all I held true was not as it seemed. 
If music be truly the language of love 
Then never a tender note did I hear, 
For our love, in truth, played tuneless and rough 
And whispered in tongues, too distant to learn. 
Still I would lie in the dense haze of dawn 
Longing to touch just the edge of your world. 
In truth all remained was silence and scorn, 
Our strident desires unheard or untold: 
Therefore it is we were destined to fail, 
But truth in our death is free to exhale.

Performance

By Fleur Shepherd

Introduction:

Performance was written in the wake of a relationship with an actor friend who was convinced that we should give a romantic relationship a shot… Unsurprisingly, it failed, but not before we both really invested in falling in love.

This poem explores the performance element of relationships, and how we create what we want it to be rather than being truthful to the reality. Perhaps we fake-it-till-we-make-it by acting out our ideas of what love is, or should be, instead of trusting our instincts?

Performance 

We had our portended moment;
Our midnight-promised moment,
Held snug and swaying tight together
In the heat-humid darkness of a part-packed hall.
Our hearts and heads pulsing 
To the beat of a Mississippi bass
In that stage-lit light, where 
All the created-sparkle touched
Was made, in that moment, magical.

How poised;
How perfect was that suspended moment 
We then shared.
I knew, somewhere far away inside myself,
It would not last.
Its shine was not nature-made,
But cultivated, courted and corralled
By you,
To fit a screenplay whose script I didn’t have.
Well played.
A perfectly persuasive performance.
Was I really wanting to take that part with you?
It was not a perfect fit.
But I believed your confidence and ease
In this unfolding play,
And wanted to share in the coupled players
You saw there;
So assured you were in the way things should proceed.

The stage that you had set
Was so vibrant and so real
That I was full convinced,
Could feel the future it revealed,
And so too, perhaps, I think did you,
That when you finally saw the natural human flaw
Revealed by partnership,
You no longer could ignore
The cardboard walls you had created.
So simple it could be to just blame me…
Put dampening house lights up 
To show the truth;
Hide yourself in shaded shadows in the wings.

Once-friend – well done – you win:
And in your triumph 
Take with you on to the next
Your trusted old stage set,
To play afresh with your next leading dame.

Sugar

By Ailsa Ilott

Introduction:

Sugar was written in response to a particularly confusing and toxic dalliance I had with someone straight after the breakdown of a long-term relationship. For some reason I couldn’t see or think clearly when I was around them and, despite feeling utterly low and used, I kept coming back for more, hoping that the high I experienced in the very beginning would return, irrespective of how brief it was.

It was toward the end, as my self-protection kicked in and I was able to take a step back, that I realised how similar my behaviour was to my battle with sugar addiction, both sides running parallel in my life.

Talking to friends I knew I wasn’t the only one to have had these types of relationships, with both people and sweets, raising that eternal question often asked between gritted teeth and frustrated grunts: how can something that looks and tastes so good be so bad?!

Sugar

The undulating landscape of sweet temptation, 
Your body called me forth.
Like that ‘One more taste’, I couldn’t resist your touch.
Honeyed words and sweet covered actions gave me relief, 
Numbing my fear of bitter loneliness.
It’s rush too heady to refuse,
And each sublime serving made me crave you more.

But like any drug, its toxicity ran silent and deep;
Rotting from the inside. Teeth blackened. Gut sore.
My heart clogging inch by inch from your poisonous nectar.
And yet I couldn’t stop. 
My addiction too strong to purge myself of the harm you caused.
My self care too weak to refuse that next sweet high.
How can something that tastes so good be so noxious?

But over time gorging on this sugar is no longer enough. 
Your sweet poison couldn’t relieve the hunger inside me, 
Your saccharine lies no longer palatable.
I wont digest it anymore. 
I see you clearly,
Hiding the decay festering inside you, I won’t let it fester in me.
And finally, finally, the bitter taste of loneliness will be a welcome treat.
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Fleur is a published poet and spoken word artist, with a background in theatre, performance and art history.