a thousand stripped screws

i’ve fallen in love a few times

with people, and places, and occasionally ideas

so far never any objects, 

well, perhaps a few books

love is a renewable resource, i’ve been told

like wood, or dandelions

no matter how many times you pick it

or cut it down, 

it grows back.

but where does this love, given away, come from?

where does the well reside within our body,

for our distribution

is it collected by droplets poured upon our hearts from other people,

or absorbed from the air, from God and nature?

what happens when none comes for you

a dry spell

for love seems to be a feast or a famine

and what about those loveless drought days

a dehydrated wilted little flower, 

no longer beautiful to the men who linger

brushing their fingers along the petals

deciding who to pick




but still not ever chosen

they can’t seem to commit

these petals that you grow, 

or attach to your body, 

so you aren’t forgotten 

these petals aren’t our roots, 

they are our style and fashion

so easily removed by greedy hands,

who wish that beauty was something you could capture.

why is it that the one thing 

that truly makes us beautiful to other humans:

which is the filter we are seen through

by the eyes that love us

happens to be the very beauty required to be loved?

what a painful cycle

the abused and neglected, 

growing bitter and angry and cold

frown lines infused around lips that haven’t smiled in years

let alone been kissed


forced to be unattractive

by bad luck and a few bad decisions

passed by, and by again

because we’d rather love the easily loved


the ones who smile as much as they breathe

and never have trouble getting out of bed


what if falling in love was something 

that you could only do once

sometimes i believe

that i’ve loved

the men I’ve loved

too fiercely

for that to ever be undone

like a screw twirled into a wooden plank

just a little too tight

always a little too tight

now stripped, unable to be unscrewed and replaced


trying to unlove you

and you

and him too

has been like trying to remove

a thousand stripped screws


one more season, maybe that will do it

pine wood and pine trees, 

but always loving those I’ve loved

doesn’t necessarily mean i’m pining


i’ve accepted that the plans I had made

with you,

and you,

and him too

were never meant for me at all.


something strange has happened

since that bright summer month, the happiest time of my life

spent on the back of his bike

or that cold winter night, 

saying those three words on his front porch 

or the spring before, 

talking of travel and film, falling for a human work of art

the summer before that, breathing only the air that came from his face

or the years before that, i spent loving him a few desks away, completely invisible


see as i work my way back,

from one love story to another, 

different people, different endings

from one broken heart to the last

either theirs or mine


i see it so clearly

love gets better and better, 

each and every time.


i am grateful that i’ve told each and every one of them

that they were deeply loved by me

even the ones who never said it back


offering love 

to everything you are capable of loving

to everyone God allows you

the opportunity to love

and the privilege to be broken by


this is the secret to falling in love 

with being alive


and now i must trust

that an unfinished story

can still have a happy ending

Rachel HelenComment