Evidently, I’m on a poetry jag for a few days. I ran across a whole file of poems that I’d forgotten about, and this one decided to grab me by the neck. It’s called “Cowardice.”


I remember how it felt:

half fear, half intoxicating joy.

Wholly unexpected.

Your first embrace enfolded me,

unhesitating, almost


in its presumption.

No question in your eyes wondered

if I’d welcome your advance.

You knew I would.

And I —

seemingly unabashed

by bad choices and worse losses —

I trembled before your confidence,

found myself following, where I’d expected to lead,

learned my life’s lessons had taught me nothing


and discovered a passion, fully kindled,

where I’d been hoarding only ashes.

I’d thought those embers had died,

but they merely slumbered,

awaiting not an inconstant spark,

but an abiding flame

To quicken them.

I expect it was the same with you:

Years spent alone,

ragged wounds cauterized ruthlessly

and covered so none could see.

Reluctant comprehension that the light of lesser flames

was not for you,

and the time for striking an abiding passion

had passed.

Strange, then, that the ashes

we’d each guarded so long

should catch so quickly.

Having seen the light awaken in your eyes,

I have not the courage

to watch it fade

as I know it must.

Ah, love. You were my best choice in this life,

my worst loss.

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About Billie Noakes

The writer you want for crisp, clean copy.
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