local_library The first cut is the deepest

by Elizabeth Horstmann

Published in Issue No. 294 ~ November, 2021

morning woke me, dream of your taste on my tongue your scent still lingering, twenty years later

I said your name out loud into the nothing, a question forever unanswered

out into cold waking world, into darkness of snowy morning

a murder of crows cackling, dark against the dull slate sky, it was the Ides of March

a woman stumbling off snow covered sidewalks, black hooded trench coat, a harbinger

she stared at me from above a red scarf covered face, her eyes sunken, told a sad story

she swaggered away looking hungry, high, and freezing

I recognized in her the same demons who once possessed you all those years ago


my hopes of a lifetime together, led to slaughter one by one

the child whose life I had taken, lost forever, you may never even know

I drank in more bitterness that day than herbs grown, tinctures prepared from my own garden

I shed more tears those weeks than cells gathering in my Womb

the time you spent in the streets, fighting for your life sent a part of me dying

I felt the atrophy of my young heart, forever devoid of the capacity to love again so completely

my trust in others faded, my trust in love itself, vanished


I wonder if you were my one, my only chance at real love?

The first cut is the deepest, they say

as I drove away I whispered a prayer for her for the shell of you back then,

I sent you compassion backward in time to embrace you in your darkest moments

I sent myself love into those corners of wretched hell born heartbreak

the drugs you ingested, crossed your threshold, entered your bloodstream,

and depleted both of our souls for a lifetime


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Elizabeth Horstmann is a poet who lives in Barre Vermont. She is an artist, writer, mother, and teacher. She works for the Headstart program. She has had poetry and artwork published in ZigZag lit mag and the Druidical. She also does woodland artwork and writes on her blog about it; https://thetreesongjourney.com/