"mutual understanding"

by C. Ikpoh

You once gently rested into me upon embrace. Once upon a time, you would slide up my frame by standing tip-toe to place your lips on my cheek, and I responded by wrapping my arms around you during our embrace to press my lips against your head ever so lovingly. We moved close to one another when near, flowing with the magnetism. You told me things - things which were a glimpse into the "you" very few knew. We built each other up with our words, never hesitating or hiding the things we wanted to share or say. But now... now things are different.


I opened my heart to you as you did in return. Unbeknownst to me though, this was where our hearts were to part ways. I allowed myself to love freely but I shouldn't have. It was a dire mistake, for you did not do the same. Your feelings and the possibilities of their growth became a cause for concern. You were not in a position to love freely, and you would not continue on the same path we journeyed. Now, distance grows between us. Your embrace is hesitant. It is stiff, led by a cold shoulder with the intentions of greeting a foreigner. You make me feel like I am abusing our connection when I lean towards your strategically placed head so far away from me, and place the same kiss upon your crown you warmly accepted before. Your feet forever remain flat, sustaining the gap of air between our gazing eyes. You move as if we are polarized, consciously staying many arm lengths departed from where I stand. The window into your world, into your life, into your soul, is closed. I express my observations to you, and you are quick to tell me "Stop" or dismiss my confessions with stone words void of openness. You refuse to travel down a road of possible vulnerability through deflection and avoidance. Often, I question, are we victims of our own magic and sensibilities?


I am pained by these things - greatly pained. Yet, I understand why, and I respect the reasoning. It was simply not meant to be. The universe is the cruelest of jesters. At one time we both believed love knew no boundaries. We believed the human heart was strong enough, grand enough, to exist where others said it could not, where others would never understand its existence. Nevertheless, the joke was on me. You were not fated to believe as strongly as I, and as family that is torn by ideologies, we are at odds, quite possibly forever. I am pained while you are happy. My heart, though aching and lonely from the absence of yours in this space we began creating together, understands. I understand. It does not mean I can erase my suffering. It does not mean I can erase my hope. Simply, it means I can live, praying one day you may understand this as I do, and that you may join me in this space my heart continued to build after yours left.