I know you
The outline of you glimmers bright
Violent and electric.
It shimmers with life and movement,
The inattention of a distracted eye
A need to be in motion.
The inner cavern
I know less well.
It is murky and messy and toxic
It is tired and wise and ancient old.
With echoes
That pull you everywhere and all over.
A feigned callousness,
You play games and mock
Link arms with hedonism
Tap-up adrenaline.
That glowing grin
A bold challenge to entice,
The Lorelei before rocks.
And I know the you
In tall denims and quick wit.
And I see the you
In dark heart and deep places.
– I am mesmerised by both.
For there, in the essence
Is the soul of a man I do not disregard with ease.
It holds a forgotten rage
It is fire and brimstone and shifting landscapes
It gifts a casual embrace
It is an easy saunter and contagious laugh.
And further, and hidden
A strong and brave man
Who fears and loves and hopes
Like every one of us mere mortals.

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These words have always sounded beautiful to me. They capture the essence of the truest friendships and offer, in such lyrical ribbons of language, what it is to be a friend.

“But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

Dinah Craik

Dinah Maria Craik was an English novelist and poet.
20 April 1826 – 12 October 1887

seedlings

Ah, but to speak with authority you must inhabit that place called authenticity. That which starts at honesty. With others, seeking both sincerity and trust. With yourself, being present and truthful. Know that sometimes your crusade cannot be theirs. Recognise, release. It is not why someone isn’t on your side, but why you need them there.

Ben

When you walk into that shared space and I know I must protect myself. But so close, in a knife-edge glimmer, I am prostrate. I will be shallow-grave cold or pliable supplicant. And cannot choose. I would be stood in the shadowlands of a quietened distance as your most loyal cheerleader, or walk beside you to the ends of the earth. It is a confusion of uninhibited moments, and the guarded reflex of a soul still scarred.
And how can I gift you the very connection that will hook you to my heart, when I am contracting and censoring at every spoken word. The sacrifice such cost. We pledge an intimacy without rehearse, as easily as it was, yet more truthful somehow. Barely acknowledged. Though you push for my thoughts, I cower. Braveness deserts me each time. Honesty gives you escape and I dare not cue that departure. Best you walk of your own accord. Again. When you’ve taken what you need. Not a plunder, for it is presented freely. And you know it. But there will be bereavement. And my heart may not make it through that jungle-dark experience quite so wholly this time.
Or indeed, maybe the healing begun, is now my coping and you will not hear the hushed whisper of my dreams. Locked down behind my eyes. And I will not feel you leave me or worry at your retreating footsteps. For you will retrace. When you are ready. And we know it.