Here with Her

In my dreams, I watched

as he turned away and the feel

of his hand against mine

had begun to fade.


I awoke to the imprint of loss

upon my palm

and the unforgotten ache

of regret etched into

my throat.


Both of us wanting.

But I was needing.


He could have been a beginning

had I not thrust him into an end.


He was the loss of a possibility

my teenage self

continues to mourn.


She had to refuse

what she most craved.


His eyes upon her.

His hand within hers.

The light of his affection

offering a home

of belonging.


She’s still clutching

to what could have been

had refusing him been a choice

she wanted to make,

rather than a reflex

she was forced to follow.


That’s the thing about survival…

It’ll choose scraps of security

and confining familiarity

over the gloss of risk

and flirtatious tease

of uncertainty.


What she most wants from me

is my non-doing,

non-fixing,

full-listening presence.

She wants me to sit beside her

and take in how impossibly hard it was

and is

for her to hold the pain

of having to release

what could have been hers.

The feeling of being chosen

being wanted

and living less alone.


Through the rush

of tumbledown tears

mine, not hers,

she turns toward me

with downcast, doleful eyes

and whispers...


“I had to let go of a lot

in order to live.”


“I had to let go of a lot

in order to live.”


All she really wants

is for me to honor

and acknowledge

this heavy, burdensome truth

which had lived unspoken

until now.


“I know.

You had to let go of a lot

in order to live.

I know. And, I’m so sorry.”


She nods with resignation

as her body sighs with relief.


Together, we turn our attention back

to the fading image of him

growing smaller and smaller

as he walks farther and farther

into a past that’s still

so very close.


- Lauren Taub Cohen