Poem inspired by “Sophia” by Nerina Pallot.
Her name was (is) maybe, Sophia–
(pronounced like sapphire)–
or something completely unlike it.
From a distance, she sparkled
like some strange sapphire.
Like something bright and blinding,
crystal and hard edges, brutal perfection.
She commanded you adore her,
and how I adored her, my Sophia.
(My daughter, my sister, my heart and soul;
my agony and anguish and everything in between.)
She was the marrow in my bones.
She was the method of my madness–
my Sophia, Sophia, I cannot put her out.
She burned me with her fire, and I let her consume me;
became ash and emptiness and the things I wish
I couldn’t remember.
(But Sophia, my Sophia, I can. I can.
Every moment I loved you,
every fragment of a soul
I shattered to feed yours.)
She showed me her face;
I wrote her into my fictions.
Denied she had insecurities, scapegoating my own.
Ignoring the knives she held, I gave her myself,
bruised and barren, bleeding,
believing she would fight for me,
or fight with me,
But stones cannot feel, can they (my Sophia)?
And neither can the stars she hungered for.
I tried to give her all those stars,
bared the blackest of my black heart,
let her feast on my failings.
(I became weak for you,
and I loved you,
and I love you still.)
And she is what will kill me, my Sophia:
the letting go, the disentangling
my heartstrings from her small, star-shaped hands.
I was her biggest fan, Sophia.
I stood in the stands for her, crying loudest,
bathing her in rose-colored light,
trying to remake myself new.
I never wished for this.
Even as I hate her, I hate myself.
My heart so used to loving,
rebels against this foreign loathing,
and instead turns on itself–
For you, Sophia.
the god that I worshipped,
the girl I called family,
the star I turned to shadow for.
I want to forgive you,
and then banish you to memory,
but I am still the girl you watched me become.
And you are still numb, my starlit Sophia,
and silent, and smiling,
and still feasting, still feasting,
on the soul that, still,
I would willingly give.
(And until today, I would protect you, Sophia.
I would rather hate myself than admit you hurt me.)
Have you ever loved someone so much you let them come at you, and cleave you apart, piece by piece, year by year? I still love her that way. It’s not a romantic love. I suspect if it was, it would be so much easier to just consign all the feelings to hate and move on…but if my PhiloFamily professor was correct, and when you love, you create a sort of “horcrux” in another, then I am still in her–shriveled and broken but beating, beating faintly, still feeding her as best I can from this distance.
I’m not in love with her, to be clear. Before you misunderstand me as having a sexual orientation that I don’t have–a misunderstanding that has happened many times before, and once, most notably, with her as the “partner”–I have to be clear that this is not a love poem in the strictest, Shakespearean sense. I am not in love with her. I will only ever be able to be in love with people of the male gender. But it is a love poem, because I do love her, even as I hate her and hate myself for hating her and wish I could forgive her and forget her.
I’m trying to, truth be told. I’m struggling to accept that what we had as friends can’t come back. That I’ll have to find a new normal. And that it’s okay, because it is.
Until then, though, I’m learning how to deal.