love is


touch drawing by Susan Arnsten-Russell

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
Helen Keller

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. – Dalai Lama

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
– Jack Layton

For the month of February we have been exploring different aspects of love in writing and image. This past week, we offered as opening poem ‘What she loves’ by Judith Sternbergh. Its four sections start with the following lines, in order: Here is what she loves deeply … Here is what she loves but one removed … Here is what she loves with an embarrassing relish … Here is what she needs and keeps her. Some writers used these same headings for four-part writings of their own. Others found themselves pulled by words from an epigraph. Or simply riffed on love, a word able to elicit endless responses as varied as the women writing them. This past week, the darker side of love sought or lost permeated most of the writing.


I often wonder, is this love? I think it is, but I can’t express it. Or when I do, it comes out in anger or frustration, often hurting the one person I don’t want to. Why do I do this? Well, it’s the only way I know how, the way showed to me growing up. I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to change this way of thinking what love is. But this girl makes me want to. She is my rock when I fall, my shoulder when I’m sad, and the love I need, and have longed for, for a long time. I know I’m capable of loving someone if I let down the walls I’ve built. However, scared of being vulnerable leaves me frozen where I stand, not wanting to. I’m confused, left with the worry and doubt in my head. Would I still be the person she knows if I do let down my exterior wall? or will I be so different she leaves me, abandoned, like I’m so used to? I don’t know for sure. But I do know being stripped away of her would just damage me more, leaving me helpless again to my own misery. Ths misery I create so well. All I can do is try and pray for the best in any situation I put myself in regardless the outcome. I’m just scared.



Love and compassion is something I tend to give too often.
It is never reciprocated.
So why do  I give it to begin with?
I walk a lonely road,
lover of all forsaken angels, always trying to save
them from emotional bloodshed.

But they’re dragging me down with them into the deep
shadows of depression!
Broken beaten bleeding inside a heart that has
silky ice walls as a form of protection.

Still I hold my head high until the day I break.
I present each person with a smile on my face,
a false masquerade to not let others know I’m in pain.
I’d’ rather suffer alone than drag other people down, too.
Honestly, I just want to be left alone,
left alone to bleed emotionally.

Some things are just too broken.
I love the beautiful monster that lives deep inside
the walls of my being.
I just wish I could be happy.
Something to tame the beast inside of me.

A remedy of someone who loves me!


Hope is better than fear, optimism better than despair.

I know these things. I know them and I repeat them over and over. But their application is elusive. The hope of being whole and able does not drive me. Rather the fear of falling apart moves me to action. But the pieces are breaking apart faster than the hands can stitch them together. So I work faster in an attempt to limit the fall. What happens when it all falls apart? What happens to me when the pillars of my strength crumble? What will be left of me? Fear drives. Fear of despair, of submission, of defeat. Faster, I have to patch the cracks up faster. Stitch the wounds, quickly before my life bleeds too much. Here’s a band-aid. Here’s some tape. You’re breaking apart, jam it back together. Juggle, juggle, fix, don’t fall … oh, yeah – and breathe! Don’t be afraid, hope! I am afraid to hope. I am afraid of what comes when hope fails. I am a Picasso all patched together. This is not art. This is pain. Hope is better than fear, but harder to come by.

. . . and you?

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