ariana sexton-hughes

Irina, also know as Selena Iriana, passed away in 2013. Irina was a poet, writer, and intellectually supercharged womyn.

She struggled for many years with anorexia and myriad emotional challenges.

She was an incredible supporter of my work and composed some brilliant poetry in honor of my own. 

I miss her terribly.  This poem was written for one of her services.
Special thanks to the tremendously talented Zoey Funnell for bringing this work to life in such an indelibly beautiful way.

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thousands of miles (away)

from thousands of miles away
…..I couldn’t fully know your pain.
what might have been
what we might have done
…..and when
and how
…..and all those things
words cannot explain.

True.
We chatted
not about fashion
nor flavors of the month
…..nor
…other idle talk.
No… definitely not.

(No)
We spoke of cutting
…..and healing
and hurting
…..and screaming
…..and squirming
and…..
clawing away our skin.

Yes,
we spoke.
or at least
we tried to share,
to laugh,
to giggle.
…sometimes to tattle
…..but rarely the trivial.

Yet
all those aches,
those doubts,
….those feelings
are so
…..overwhelming.
So very, very, very
difficult
…..to overcome.

They kept interrupting,
…..interjecting,
…..disrupting,
…..cutting,
closer and closer and closer,
…..slicing deeper
and deeper,
…..and deeper,
…..marking the marrow
beneath the bone.

Yet
despite these barriers
…of time
…and land
……and sea,
language and society,
we found comfort
in each other’s words…

….always so distant.
………..yet
…always
….so very, very close.

Our words
…..soothing potions to our broken,
busted,
frightened,
…far too often tortured souls
…..our ever…
seemingly forever….
….terribly troubled souls……

Yes.
From thousands of miles away…
…we shared our aches.
and sometimes….
…..though much too rarely,
…we shared our inner aspirations
……our little pleasures
…and the pleasantries
that come with cordial conversation.

Just, in our case,
…..a wall remained
…not one covered
in razor wire
…or in electrified chains…
…..No.
Our wall was something void of shape and form.
Our wall was stronger than steel.
…and more powerful than
an electromagnetic shield.

Perhaps our wall was one born of language,
Perhaps…
…the most likely.
Our wall was a natural defense
….like thorns, protecting a rose.

So beautiful and fragrant,
yet so painfully afraid
of intimacy so natural for so many other flowers.
Or perhaps…
….ours is another kind of defense.
A fear of imperfection so powerful
…that to let another closer
…..might reveal some deeper flaws.

And those we display quite willingly
….with our carefully chosen tears
……and semi-private pains,
….which sadly
you’ll never know…
…not for sure.
…not in this life.
No.
We’re thousands of miles away.

And, because it was so, so, so very fast
…a flash…
…a scream….
…an impassioned cry…
…an escape from
…an even deeper pain….
There was not even another chance to share
…another hug,
…..another love,
…….another cry.

No, not, no…
not even a gentle goodnight.
…Or…
…a proper,
….final
goodbye.

Yes, from thousands of miles away…
…So very, very far away….
We exchanged
….poetry and prose
….and tears and screams,
……..nightmares and dreams…
yes…
ours was a knowing clairvoyance,
virtual smiles,
warming
……glowing hugs.
and such…

Yes, yes, yes.

But most of all…
so sadly,
so painfully,
so regretfully,
so amazingly,
we didn’t…
No.
…I
….didn’t.
Yes.
and this, this, this…
…I deeply, deeply regret….
……….I didn’t try…
…hard enough
…..to understand
those things…
…..those things…
…so all-too-often,
best left unsaid…
….not by those up close…
….but by pixelated…
almost… virtual friends…
such as you and i….

Yes. Perhaps for us.
“….best left unsaid.”
“No,” I screeched…
…sobbing softly
into a balled up mangle of scrunchies…

“Yes.”
I now know,
upon reflection,
these were not those words.
“Those words…”
…..best left unsaid.
No, no, no, no. My darling.

It’s on me.
….I
should have
gone deeper.
….I
should have
asked more questions.
….I
should have
let you
retreat,
….to read to me en frainçaise.

Yes.
….I should have
read more of your work.

“Non,” you say.

“Yes,” I should have.

The clues were all there.
The pain explored,
….the obsession I ignored.

Now the guilt is overwhelming
as I know.
…Yes, I know.
…I could have.
…I should have
…..done more to probe
…to question
discreetly,
below,
below that extraordinary surface.
So burnished by brilliance and beauty
and such glorious creativity,
sensitivity…
…..and strength.

“I’m sorry,” I plead.
“I’m sorry.” I plead.

Even from thousands and thousands of miles away,
I could have…
I should have.
…I ought to have done…
…..so, so, so much more.

Alas…
…….Like so many of us,
I let my own pain,
my own horror,
my own vanity,
…and frustrations,
…and shame,
mask an underlying pain
that was so much worse
…..and not mine, but yours,
I’m so sorry…dear heart.

I’m so, so, so, so…
….. sorry.

I know your decision was yours alone.
But,
I should have seen the signs
so, so loud and clear.

You declared on my birthday this year…
…I inspired you to write
…..some 900 pages of poetry and prose.
Yours and yours alone.
Words I shall never know.

Yet some of them live on through your various virtual personae.
Perhaps, I should have worked harder
to translate from French to English.
Perhaps, I was too lazy
…when confronted by so much pain
….pain I understood,
……drafted in a language I barely know.

It angers me that I was too self-absorbed
to see the anguish looming ever larger,
hidden in plain view.

But of course…
…..this is our disease.

The last, for now, what’s left,
…it must be an alteration in my comportment.
I must learn to listen
……so much more intently.
I must learn
……to feel more perceptively
…..even when it hurts.

And I must do as you ask…..
…..and keep on writing…
…..to be super, superstrong.

And I must remember
as I waffled,
as I agonized,
as I anguished,
…..so incessantly
…..over whether or not
I should face
…..into public view
the most painful
….and peculiar…
the most shameful…
….and discomforting incidents of them all
those which…
….unfortunately….
….form the very core
of nearly all of my physical,
….emotional
……and psychological form.

You’re so very, very strong.
“Don’t be afraid,” you calmed.
“You have to write to heal, and we want you to heal.”
“So don’t be afraid. It will release you”.
Yes, I must heed this advice,
I must lay claim to your supportive words.

I thank you darling, Irina.

So
from thousands of miles away,
we bid you farewell.
You should always remain close
to our hearts,
our minds,
our souls.

Yet, we shall never know
what you think…
….what you really think
…of this poem
………or the many others not born
…..before that night…
…before you said goodbye.

Godspeed and goodnight.
…all so,
very,
very,
all alone.
Our hugs
once more,
our tears
….forever,

But,
only I am left
to cherish these last words.
“Keep on writing” you say,
“Stay so super strong…”
from across thousands of miles
of ocean and land
and countless
and innumerable
….renewable dimensions.

As we’ll try to live those words
….and pray
….that our walls dissolve
through time and space,
….that your new home is
a much, much better place.
“Goodbye, my friend.”
“Goodnight, forever.”
“May you always and forever
be wrapped
in a glorious and warm embrace.”
“Goodnight.”

We shall miss you
…so much more
than you…
…will ever know.

 

© 2013-2023 by ariana sexton-hughes, all rights reserved.

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