In my earlier post, I added a note to the poem “At Arm’s Length.” The poem had started to come together for me as I was driving, but then I hit a wall. Not with my car, but with my words. I knew it wasn’t “finished,” but I posted it anyway. Here is a revised version of the poem. It’ll still go through several more revisions, but this one says better what I wanted to say earlier.
Walls are not built by accident.
The Great Wall of Keeping You
at Arm’s Length is carefully constructed
by the ones who seek to keep your love
from penetrating the layers of their bruised
or just untouchable heart. At the very start
of the falling, a person already knows
just how far she’s willing to fall. And he’s
not always willing to fall all the way
in love with you. And that’s why she starts
building walls around her heart to keep you
out. He doesn’t count on you shielding your eyes,
trying hard to unsee what you’ve already seen.
Doesn’t see how your view is obscured by
bricks being added one day at a time even as you
skin your knuckles trying to carve a door through
the protective wall. You break your nails,
tear skin from your hands, add new scars to
cover the old as you try to break through
the unspoken words, lapses in speech,
the I love yous that hang in the air, longing
gazes thrown out like fishing hooks,
sacrificial destruction of self to make room
for a love that exists only in delusions you
pocketed long ago. Desperate cement meant to
hold together what has already fallen apart
or else existed only within you. Because
walls are not built by accident.
You shield your eyes, cover illusions with
the gift wrap of lies, tell yourself it’ll get better with
time. All the while the brick wall increases in size;
it will soon tower above you preventing you from
being able to see beyond what it is you want,
deep down in your heart. All you want is to
be loved like you love her. But walls are not built
by accident. You thought if you ignored the wall
it would simply liquefy from your clumsy efforts to
grasp what is already gone. If a life preserver
grazes your fingers but slips away, consider yourself
dead. Walls do not simply dissolve. The foundation
is too strong. Words they’re afraid to say build walls,
burn bridges, become an optical depiction of what you’d
rather not see. The illusion lies within you.
Wishing something to disappear does not make it so.
Were it that easy, I never would have let him go.
People don’t suddenly unknow you, but they can start
to unravel the love they once felt for you. So when you see
the walls start to grow, don’t unwish it so
and don’t waste time trying to climb a wall that
was put in place to keep you in yours.
And climbing a wall is not like climbing a tree.
The view will always be obscured, and you’ll see
only what you want to see. And even when you know
walls are not built by accident, somehow you’ll
still never be able to see the walls built for you,
built to keep you from giving the love you want
to give, the love that doesn’t want to be received.
Peace & Love,