Loves Me, Loves Me Not

Written for Mary's Mixed Bag Challenge set this week by Kerry on Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.

Imagine you hold a bag which contains two objects: one which can heal and one which can harm. Only you may identify these two objects through touch, texture, shape-recognition and imaginative exploration. Which object would you withdraw first? Does the good out-weigh the bad, or is harm something that cannot be prevented? Use one of these two items as the starting point of your poem and move towards the other in conclusion.


The dual nature of the bag's contents immediately drew my mind towards the nature of abuse in relationships. The captivating cycle of tender love and frightening abuse, the simultaneous arousal and loathing, and the addictive nature of this duality, is something that is seldom discussed in open forums in India. 


This is my dedication to victims and survivors of spousal/relationship abuse.






I hold in my hand, a box that has within it
The basis of my marriage, the reason for my existence
It holds in its unseen depths, every year, every minute
A red heart of love, and a black heart of violence

I count the endless days I lie
Bleeding, beaten black and blue
And the eternity of sublime
Bliss, with love in all its hues

Alternating between the caress and the whack
I feel around, not knowing which to choose
Should I stay because I love him, and he loves me back
Or do I run away before the monster is again set loose?

Sometimes the pain is ecstasy, and gentle kisses hurt
Either way it's better than being ignored and left untouched
Or am I suddenly sick, and can't tell gold from dirt
My medicine is his tenderness, his whiplash my crutch

I pick his heart of violence, and fill my own
With a smidgen of courage, de-addiction my aim
I carry his heart of love, as I walk my path alone
The memories will keep me warm as my life I finally claim.



32 comments:

  1. this is something i wouldnt have thought of writing on such a topic..too good..

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  2. A powerful poem about choices too many women have to make: to stay or to leave. I was heartened, in the final stanza, that this particular woman left to walk her path alone and take time to claim her own life.

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    1. Thank you for reading, Mary! I'm always hopeful that the victims will find the courage to stand up for themselves and walk out on the abuse. If anyone deserves a happy ending, it is them :)

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  3. You have a way of bringing your chosen subject to the level of every reader. This poem is no exception. I thought the paradox of this line is particularly telling:

    Sometimes the pain is ecstasy, and gentle kisses hurt...

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    1. Thank you Kerry :) I write what I myself can understand, particularly when talking about issues that demand as much clarity and directness as possible. Since I am bad with metaphors and symbolism, the direct approach works out pretty well for me :D

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  4. Wow! Beautiful poetry! I loved the way you concluded this poem! How the ambiguity whether to stay or leave is broken!

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    1. Thank you so much Valli :)

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  5. This is such a well written poem on a difficult topic. You understand well the dynamic of this situation. I also noted the line Kerry did. You have captured those feelings so well.

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    1. Thanks for reading my work, Sherry!

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  6. more often than not, we have to walk alone if we choose the right path. the life you described here is hell and no one should put up with it. but if she carries the heart of love, how can she achieve de-addiction?

    anyway, you are really good at this! very creative!

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    1. By acknowledging the violence, she has chosen to take the first step towards breaking the love-hate cycle. By carrying the good memories of the relationship, she chooses to stay hopeful and doesn't lose faith in herself or in finding love again.

      Thank you for making the effort to actually understand this even though you prefer a more light-hearted read. I truly appreciate it, DJ :)

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  7. Beautifully captured pain.....
    This line is what spoke to me about relationships...good ones ..bitter ones

    Either way it's better than being ignored and left untouched

    You do wonder if its better to be alone and unaffected or plunge in and take on whatever comes. Most people need a connection....a witness to their lives...( I think I heard this in Stepmom)

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    1. Thank you for your generous comment, Sini. You put the point across beautifully when you say that people crave for a connection, come what may.

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  8. "sometimes the pain is ecstasy, and gentle kisses hurt..." i'm glad you wrote that, it's such a huge part of the human condition and the way we think of ourselves and the things we deserve/want/need. this is powerful. x

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    1. Thank you for reading this Dana. Isn't it amazing what the human mind is capable of thinking? To believe that one actually deserves pain and humiliation, and to be unable to break free of that assumption, is a prison with no walls that we are capable of building for ourselves.

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  9. Such a powerful piece and so subtly done--I so enjoyed reading it!

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    1. Thank you so much Audrey :)

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  10. Mixi, first time here, thanks to Real Toads. Startling choice of subject, yet one many of us visit unflinchingly, if only to let other women know there is life and creativity on the "other side." Infusing your heart with courage, that is the key. And my abuse from Husband Number One was emotional, not physical... but either is hard to define, hard to justify why we stay. And still we do, sometimes for too long. GREAT writing, Mixi. Peace, Amy
    http://sharplittlepencil.com/2013/03/15/mama-needs-a-brand-new-bag-a-barlette/

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    1. Thanks Amy! I have read several of your poems, and I know you have been vocal in expressing your support for the cause of gender equality. Thank you for reading and sharing your personal experience here.

      Emotional abuse is sometimes even more hurtful, with scars that stay fresh for much longer than physical abuse. And it takes a long time before we realise that we are, in fact, being emotionally abused at all. Even then, it is so perplexing and difficult to comprehend that we don't know what, if anything, to do about it. I too was in a similar situation at one point in my life, and it took me quite a while to realise what was going on. However, I had a support system that enabled me to walk away. Most people in such situations are not that fortunate.

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  11. Humans have evolved with effective conscious and unconscious response patterns to manage traumatic situations. The brain and body make up a complex interdependent system. This line crushed my heart, Mixi..(so excruciating, so harrowing...)
    "My medicine is his tenderness, his whiplash my crutch"---life turns weightless when a life has to accept such a trauma.
    Very beautifully penned, as always:)

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    1. Very elegantly said, Ma'am. The human mind is capable of taking extreme measures for self-preservation that we cannot easily comprehend.

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  12. Nice articulation of emotions.

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  13. a difficult subject expertly tackled, it really captures the intensity and duality of these relationships, well done.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Emma!

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  14. I was thinking of this very subject last night. I'm glad the subject of your poem chose freedom from violence even if it meant a lost love.
    Thanks to your poem, I am one step closer to understanding why women remain in abusive marriages.
    A fascinatingly good write, Mixi. Thanks!
    K

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  15. yes, Mixi. i so appreciate your voice.

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  16. What choices one has to make..The choice was hard, but so necessary. Thanks for addressing such a difficult subject!

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  17. I loved that ending Mixi! It goes much beyond deciding to quit an abusive marriage. It promises to carry away only the positive memories!

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!

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