VII OF CUPS

Our attraction was part delusion; it was misty and ethereal, dark and gritty, intense and wild.  We move away from our old life trepidatiously…did we deserve all of the beauty that was to come?  The sleeping lions in the den, only leaving for their prey, pouncing on one another if it had been too long.  We were granted a cub.  A sweet, shy, rambunctious cub that grew within me and he would be ours.  We were upside down, turned around…floating through the mist, through the womb, about to be reborn ourselves. 

I was afraid.  I could not be alone.  I needed to fix another, I need to put my tools to use, tools I didn’t even know I had.  Pulling the ones I love from the swamp, even when I’m in the swamp myself.  Efficient, in a way, practical.  I needed saving and so did he and I would do it for us both.  Our cub grew.

I held on tight, so tight I could not become uncoiled.  I birthed him in strength and hope and resolve.  The contractions turned into expansions and there he was.  Our boy, our angelic, wide-eyed beautiful boy.  This would be it.  We would move towards the light once and for all. 

But we were drowning still and I tried to keep us afloat in the early years.  He had one foot in the muck and I begged him to come with me, to leave it behind.  Our sweet baby, with his cooing and drooling, the suckling and wetting, our cub didn’t know why I screamed and cried but he could feel us.  He could feel our fractured love. 

We couldn’t stay steady; we mauled each other in our isolation.  We kept our secrets close.  We devoured each other in the dark, eyes closed, praying for connection, for something real and concrete.  Searching for somewhere to land.  He taught me patience and what stagnancy meant.  I taught him about chaos and movement.  We danced together for seven years.  Rituals performed, ceremonies and announcements—it’s real, it’s real! We said.

Is anything real?  Once you have seen another’s insides, the darkest caverns and murkiest waters, is it ever possible to float lazily and freely?  Does one ever really catch their breath after such a whirlwind?  He lied, and I begged and screamed; I lied, and he scolded and turned away.   We are ugly towards one another.  Did the beauty ever exist or only in the misty rays of Neptune?  Only in the poisonous medicine of Pluto?  Where was the love?  Where was the harmony?  Somewhere beneath lifetimes of rubble and trash, scorpions and serpents and fire ants pinching us as we excavated…but it never ended.  We uncovered old rubber tires and trash, tin foil, soot and ash, rage and hysteria…hidden deeper, further, even farther away.  We were unsafe.

I dug and sweat and cried and bled trying to find it, find the center, find our center, but to no avail.  My cub was in danger, but I facilitated that danger myself.  Screaming NO.  THIS IS NOT OKAY.  My son watched in fear, but I couldn’t contain myself.  My red warrior Aries swelled out of me in waves, in fear, crashing and creating chaos in anything that tried to stop me, tumbling us all around in confusion and dust and heat…and then sorrow. 

He snuck around in the night like a rat, rummaging for food and bits and scraps of silver, the black marks leftover on the walls that charred my heart again and again and again.  Feeling his absence in our bed at night, I’d crawl over to where he slept and smell him in my dreams.  If I had the energy on those nights I’d morph into a detective with an endless reserve tank.  I’ll get to the bottom of this.  We’ll have to stop pretending, circling around the great elephant of our life together.  This will be the last time.  The anger would bubble up inside of me, whistling like a hot kettle.  Our son would awake, afraid of me.  Madness ensued.  Please just stop, he’d say.  Please.  But I couldn’t.  He couldn’t.  It was never the last time.

Other nights I would sleep through it, knowing already but too tired to investigate and we’d float through the foggy lies, just waiting for the next eruption. He was stuck in the soft lull of opiates, lost out to sea in the riptide of addiction, almost always calm.  It was in his nature to be this way but somehow he became even more muted and dull.   Still and thick like molasses over his reactions, over his libido, over his life force…chill, tranquilo, no worries. 

Oh how I worried, how I see his dirty hair and the freckle below his eye, his sweet smile and his gentle touch, and I worry no one will ever see him the way I see him again, that he will slip away.  Maybe he will just disappear inside of himself and never return.  The red within me burns and I bleed out.  I am left with nothing.  I am left.