tmbt: bittersweet regret
It arrives suddenly at first, a stinging slice through the chest, a hot poker searing behind the heart. Then the realization that it was creeping up and into full view from the moment the words were hurled. Out loud, it is almost too much to see, the edges blurred as if the heat of it has bubbled its hem, the wind haggered its trim, and red clay mud rouged its periphery. Then the joy. Joy. A funny thing to find under the sheets here. The joy of possibility, of possibility of release, of possibility of forgiveness, of possibility of change. There’s a sweetness here in the insight of wrongdoing, of falter, of long-coming, unearthed madness buried deep, buried often. A sweetness that is both soft and bitter that makes regret shine with an odd sort of beauty.
My mother sends me bouquets of bittersweet most seasons. The dark orange berries cling to the vine, a few lost to the bottom of the tissue paper-packed box, the brilliance and delight of it hiding the poisonous nightshade compounds settled into its folds. I form it into wreaths and swags and remember my mother’s love for the garden, for her birds nourished by these berries, for the poetry of love and loss, and the loss. And every year it seems I see more and more closely how my mother’s loss and absence while even in the same room has shaped my vehemence for something different. And it is that vehemence that brings me the burning carnelian berries that I feel now poking through the walls of my chest. The bittersweet asks of me many things in these moments: remember. let go. soften. soften. soften. give.
And so, I eat these berries of regret and pray they have only enough poison to extinguish the vigilant yearning for inhumanly perfect love, unimaginable prediction of need, and otherworldly capacity for intimacy that keep me from the other bittersweet of this world: the rough and tumble closeness, the lumping almost godly touches, and well-seasoned if off-kilter romance that marks human steps two by two both far and near and back again ad infinitum… in essence, the right very now present. I pray only enough poison for this, and not for the killing of even one cell of my one true heart, a wall of so many more berries than these which stain my cheeks such a beautiful orange.
Image from The Barn Nursery.