Black Opium and Lavender

You sit across from me in the bar,
Hands tremulous.
Smiling outwardly—
Frightened inwardly.

Frightened at the feelings
You shouldn’t allow yourself to feel.
Or am I projecting?
Is it me that’s afraid?

You don’t belong here,
Among this dank refuse.
Among the wayside dregs,
The forlorn throng.

Men hollowed out—
By life or by birth—
Into shells of flesh,
Shadows of people,

And trying endlessly
To fill their emptiness with
With one more cup,
One more cigarette.

One last feigned touch of interest
From an overworked dancer.

Neither thinking nor feeling.
Men no longer.
And I—the most damned.

The others smoke, drink, touch in vain,
Hoping to regain a humanity
Long lost.

I remain taciturn,
Searching for a humanity
I never had.

But with you, I feel
I may have found it.
Even for an instant.

You don’t belong here.

The multi-colored lights,
Which wore so heavily on my tired sight,
Diminish to insignificant dimness
Beside the red flame of your hair.

The coarseness, the roughness of
This masochistic enclave
Juxtaposes perfectly with your
Softness, which I relish guiltily, guiltlessly,
As you take your place upon my knee.  

Your porcelain skin
Contrasts all the more hotly
Against your red hair,
Against your black stockings.

Against the bronze hue
Of my hands
Running over your legs.

And my head is light,
Inebriated by the overpowering
Fragrance of black opium and lavender.

In only a moment,
Upon hearing
Your youthful laughter,
Your guileless voice—
I know it’s you.

I know it’s you I’ve always loved,
Shall always love.

Part of you
(And I see it in your eyes)
Will forever be innocent. Vulnerable.
It’s an innocence I long to protect.  

Yet part of you is broken—
Cracked at your epicenter.
And in the shards of your brokenness
I see myself reflected.

So often, we spend a lifetime
Trying to heal childhood wounds.
But the memories are more present to us
Than our present—and won’t relinquish their grasp.

Inside you’re still that girl
Yearning to be loved, to be accepted.
Who dreams of a happily ever after
Waiting for her.

I see your heart more clearly
Than any terrestrial body.
Your spirit is more real to me
Than Earth.

A minute’s time
Converted into an eternity—
Sufficient for me to love you
A thousand lives over.

You don’t know how I adore you,
Nor will you.

My soul anguishes in despair
As I’m racked by the futility of
My will in the face
Of unforgiving Destiny.

It is a cosmic cruelty that some men
Are born to live, laugh, love, and die
In blissful anonymity, filled with the warm
Assurance true love brings;

While others are preordained to affliction.
There is no salvation for me.
I smile ruefully as I behold you
For what I know will be the last time.

Then you’re gone,
And I’m left alone to fate,
With nothing more than the
Fading scent of black opium and lavender.