She holds and twists her long telling tale
of tangled and torn-at knots: blue ones, red ones,
yellow ones, green, her nails worn to the quick
sorting the strands of the rough, tough fibers,
tiny dark stains bled into the ragged ends.

Blue ones, I think, for the oceans of ink wept
and yet to be written; red ones for the nights that
the sharp-tongues are out; yellow for a spot
to stand firm on. (The blow, it’s certain, is coming,
yet you stand there just the same.) And finally
green, dark green, that whispering green,
that green-green germ that grows inside you:
the one you eat whole and alive, or it eats you up
from the inside out—the one you want so very much
because you planted it just for you. That one.

As much as it is to take her hands and gently warm
them to a stop, I don’t—I won’t—I can’t. They are
not mine to cut off at the wrists and let drop
to the river below, to let float downstream
bobbing up and down, waving goodbye,
trailing their rich, red hopes behind them.
They’re hers.


I started thinking about what are the elements surrounding detachment when we need it the most? I decided they are the emotions we swirl in, the hurts we are forced to endure, the courage it takes to endure and finally our egos: that element that drives us to be who we are and what we are; to fight for the right to be us, but with which we have to juggle and manage, because our egos can step over the line from strength to betrayal if we are not careful.

Thank you for reading Detachment. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph of the river was taken in my home town of Putnam, just as the sun was going down. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.


Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge, The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.


Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “Detachment

  1. WOW. Bringing the colors to a mysterious woman’s pain (?), ” … her nails worn to the quick / sorting the strands of the rough, tough fibers,/ tiny dark stains bled into the ragged ends.” I’ll read anything you bring; I like the flow.