Poetry, Prose

Multitudes

Is it true
That I contain multitudes?
Could I travel to the ends of the earth if I wanted to?

But first I would need to leave
Fear had kept me inside

I reach for the door leading out to a brilliant day
Fear screams as the soft beams of light well in her eyes
Slammed shut. Locked. Plunged back into the dark
My sight can’t adjust
And I’m captive to her blood-curdling cries

I want out, to leave Fear behind

I don’t think it’s true that I contain multitudes

If I do
They’ve escaped and ran far away

“Hush,” I whisper amidst the softening wails
“Don’t be afraid, it’s okay.”
I think to myself, I can coax you out of this cave

“Thank you,” I say “for trying to protect me,
“But there’s simply no need today.”

Once again, I try
Hand on the knob
Twist
Click
Creak

A yellow ribbon of light dances across the floor
Expanding
Even her sniffling has begun to subside – finally.

One step
I squint
My vision is tinged by the rays
Feet crushing cobblestones
The path winds
Caressed by rolling green hills
Grapevines

The sun has begun to set
Everything looks as if it were drawn with a golden outline

Where are we? I wonder

“Tuscany!” a woman proclaims from the hills
Behind her Castello Vicchiomaggio looms
“Follow me!”

Her voice is shrill
Full of energy
Smiling at me
My hesitant partner’s tears have all but dried
Replaced by a steady breath
A rhythm of life

We climb to reach her
This dazzling Bride
She has entire constellations in her eyes
She doesn’t tire
She never, ever cries

“I’m so glad you found me again,” she sighs

“But why did you leave?”

“I live in your happiest memories!
In exhilaration,
I awaken.
In courage,
I strengthen.
I lust after life
Risk
Romance
Recklessness
Resilience!”

“I want that!” I plead

“Yes, and you are about to have all of those things!” She sings

“It’s a good thing you brought her,”
the Bride gestures to the trembling girl
Fear winces at being acknowledged
She stutters
Apologizes

Her?” I ask surprised
“No, you misunderstand.
I don’t want her anymore
She’s weak
Frail
Doubtful
Regretful
Boiling over with her anxious mirages
And I’m a hostage.”

“Can I be honest?” asks the Bride
Pouring me and Fear glasses of bubbling wine

“We need her with us
Each moment in time”

Why?

Fear stiffens for a moment and begins to rise
Straightening her spine
Eyes locking with mine

“I’ve prepared you for the worst while you hoped for the best, didn’t I?
If it weren’t for me
Quite frankly
You wouldn’t be alive.”

She’s right.

Motherly
Instinctual
Intuitive
Much smarter than myself or the Bride
Through my mistakes and missteps
Fear hadn’t once left my side

Protection
Preservation
Plans
Are her virtues
And I can choose to
Accept her
Or suffer
There are always consequences

Reluctantly,
I decide
She can stay
But I cannot let her take me back into the cave

I sit between them
Imbibe
Drinking in the last of the light
As darkness falls
The Bride releases her constellations
Into the night sky

Can a dream and a nightmare coincide?

I look upon them one last time.

Fear is small
Her hair losing its shine
Eyes misty and bloodshot
She is wise
Trustworthy and kind

The Bride has a stature like mine
But her skin is tanned
Heart still intact
She laughs a rich, jovial laugh
She’s too young to know what lies beyond this winding, cobblestone path

“Is there more of us?” I wonder as a chatter emerges

Vicchiomaggio comes alive from the excitement inside
Someone unseen fervently strikes a piano’s ivory keys
Beyond its arched windows, the Castello glows
As the silhouettes within glide to and fro

“Of course there are,” says the Bride
As she and Fear invite me inside
Intrigued and enticed
I enter,
And multitudes
I find.

-t.g.c
2/9/20

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