On Winning #poem #short prose #literature

Liliya Kulianionak; Shutterstock

The afternoon smelled of brick wall; the wall I used to scratch with the knees and the nails on my way to the sea.

My blood stained my socks and fed the roots of the orange tree mama planted one spring before my seventh birthday.  Soon after the tree grew blood oranges.

I used to dream I would reach the port before crickets would serenade the white cement between the bricks, and the evening wind would sew the wounds from the face of the wall.

I needed a God to lead me to the sea. In mama’s stories there were too many Gods leading souls to heaven. I did not want to go to heaven. I wanted to go to the sea.

I used to fail.  I did not understand what failure is. The next afternoon, little ducks embroidered on the rim of my light blue dress, I would start climbing the wall again.

One day I thought I would get to the port and run straight into the sea.

Little did I know that day came when I first looked into your eyes. The ghosts of your victories and those of your wounds flapped inside your retina like laundry left to dry on a wire. Long red poles floundered left and right like the wings of a moribund bird.  The body of a boat eroded by salt, and by the kisses of the women of your past agonized in green and blue.

The sea inside your eyes: on the right your love for me and on the left your hate for the world. 

Did I say your love for me? You see, over time I had to reconsider that formulation. Your feelings resemble more a never-ending animal magnetism than love.

Let me make one thing clear. No one person is sufficient to drive all demons from another one. You can think Goethe’s elective affinities if you wish. I cannot save you from you. You need to help me.

I can carry this conversation into the night and win.

Ah, winning! The day I understood I can win I stepped into hell.

That day was the day I lost my innocence and with that the paradise. Since then, my blood has never stained my socks anymore. The orange tree has never grown red fleshed oranges, and mama stop telling stories.

I beg forgiveness every night.

Every night the number of my wins, and that of my enemies grows.

I became you as much as you became me.

Yet I know no hate. You do.

What’s wrong with me?

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My book Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings featured in San Francisco Book Review and Manhattan Book Review.

@Gabriela Marie Milton