Poetry: The Book of my Enemy — Flashback on Fast Forward | clivejames.com
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Flashback on Fast Forward

The way his broken spirit almost healed
When he first saw how lovely she could look,
Her face illuminated by a book,
Was such a holy moment that he kneeled
Beside her; and the way his shoulders shook
Moved her caressing hand. Their love was sealed.

They met again. A different, older place
Had drawn her to its books, but still the glow
Of white between the words lit up her face
As if she gazed on freshly fallen snow.
He knew his troubled heart could not forego,
Not even for her sake, this touch of grace.

He asked her hand in marriage. She said yes.
Later he often said she must have known
To be with him was to be left alone
With the sworn enemy of happiness,
Her house a demilitarized zone
At best, and peace a pause in the distress.

When finally it broke her, he helped bring
Her back to life. Give him that much at least:
His cruelty was but a casual thing,
Not a career. Alas, that thought increased
His guilt he’d talked her into sheltering
Him safe home from the storm that never ceased,

Nor ever would. And so the years went by,
And, longer wed than almost all their friends,
Always in silence they would wonder why,
And sometimes say so. When a marriage ends,
They noticed, it’s from good will running dry,
Not just from lack of means to make amends.

He could not save himself: that much she knew.
Perhaps she’d felt it forty years before
When he quaked where he knelt, and what was more
She was aware that saying ‘I love you’
To one who hates himself can only store
Up trouble earthly powers can’t undo.

But revelation can. There at the start,
It came again to mark their closing years.
Once more, and this time through and through, his heart
Was touched. The ice he half prized turned to tears
As the last hailstone melts and disappears
In rain. By just a glass door set apart,

She in her study, he in the garden, they
Looked separate still, but he saw, in her eyes,
The light of the white paper. How time flies
Revealed its secret path from their first day.
He did a dance to make her look his way.
She smiled at him, her devil in disguise,

Almost as if at last he had grown wise.