archives, poetry

The Shades of Missing You. {excerpt}


For years, I was having dreams about my first love. He would smile at me, forgive me, be my friend. I would wake up longing for closure.

I figured the dreams would fade over time, but almost 12 years later, they became stronger. Instead of friendship and forgiveness, the dreams filled with passion. I would wake up yearning for the magnets that had pulsed so powerfully within me all those years ago. That desire would mix with guilt when I’d roll over and see my partner at the time sleeping next to me.

I decided to write a poem every time I missed him. So, I did. I expected it to help. I didn’t expect it to have as much of an impact as it did.

A few unexpected things happened.

First, I started missing another person — a former best friend, perhaps it’s safe to say girlfriend, who doesn’t speak to me anymore. Some of the poems in this collection are about her.

Second, I started to have new thoughts, new emotions. This was surprising. I intended to give voice to what I was experiencing, but I didn’t consider that making art out of my pain could radically transform it.

Third, I became unhappy with the relationship I was in (to the point that I left).

Fourth, I unleashed the passion I felt for my ex-lover into the open arms of the present moment. I got my fire back.

At first, I felt there were not enough poems in The Shades of Missing You to publish it separately. I tried to make old journal entries into poems in hopes of extending it. I tried to amalgamate my other collections into this one.

As I searched through old notebooks from 12 years ago, I found anger, self-pity, and confusion. When I tried to weave poems out of them, it felt wrong, like manipulating a photo to remove the blemishes. What has been written has been written, and the way it was written is sacred. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed with emotions that I can’t write poetry about them. I simply vent onto paper.

The poetry comes later to weave beauty out of the pain. It comes when it chooses. Who am I to question that process?

I only found one poem from seven to eight years ago that I wanted to share with him, the first poem: Sometimes. I originally wrote it as a song. I recorded myself singing it over my acoustic guitar. I emailed it to him. I never got a reply. The apology in it is still real.

When I tried to make The Shades of Missing You into a chapter in a longer book, that felt wrong too, like I was trying to shove these experiences into a pre-sized mold. At the end of the day, I decided that these poems had to live by themselves, to tell the special story of healing an old wound and regaining my passion. To me, the experience has been magical, and this book is a snapshot of that magic.

If there is anything I can hope to inspire in readers of this collection, it is this: If something hurts, make art from it. You never know where it might lead you.

The Other Day

The other day I
realized I forgot your
number, but
maybe those are
someone else’s digits now.
The other day I
realized I forgot your
taste, but
maybe you are different
on someone else’s tongue.
The other day I
realized I forgot to
think about you
every day and night,
every January and Thanksgiving,
every time my feet
hit these sidewalks
paved with our memories.
But yesterday I
was walking down the
street and caught a
whiff of your cologne —
though maybe that’s not your
cologne anymore — and
I remembered everything.
The spark, the fire,
the waves, the tsunami,
the desire, the addiction,
the promises, the lies,
the cut, the scar,
the sting, the sickness,
the hopes, the delusions,
the warmth, the burn.
You, me, us,
all in one breathless moment, but
by the next breath, I
forgot again.
I wonder if that
ever happens
to you.


Plan B

Yesterday, your memories came
to dig up the fragments
I buried like time capsules
in my bones:
shattered hopes,
splintered disappointments,
shrapnel love that gasps and bleeds.
I’ve been sick with you for years.
The smell of pain grew on me,
and I could almost believe it
when I told people I let you go.
But the truth is that
every poem I write
is trying to be about you,
but I won’t let it.
Every triumph I celebrate
is desperate for you
to say, “I’m proud of you,”
to say, “I forgive you.”
I know you probably won’t.
But I hold out a shred of hope,
hold out a white flag,
hold my heart open,
just in case.
After you,
everything was a backup plan.
After you,
life was Plan B.


The Woman, The Wolf

Those were the days, weren’t they?
We were free then, reckless.
And you loved the way I crumbled
because I’d crumble into you.
And you loved how I growled
because I kept them away from us.
Until I crumbled alone.
Until I hissed at you.
Until I bit.
Until you bled.
Losing you taught me
the fragility of trust.
It’s still hard to believe
you’re never coming back.
There will always be a
tree-shaped scar on my heart,
the ring turned into a black hole
consuming all these memories,
all this wandering love I still hope
to one day give to you.


Vironika Tugaleva is an award-winning author, poet, spoken word artist, nomad, and seeker of beauty in all its forms. Find free previews of her books on her website.


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