“Excuse me can I borrow your strength”

IMG_7945For eighteen months I’ve been carrying an anchor: lugging the damn thing around from A to B. Before I meet people I hide it and then when they’ve gone I carry it home.  I put it in bed each night, wake up next to it each morning and hulk it downstairs for breakfast.    It’s barnacled. It’s slimy.  It’s difficult.  It’s heavy. To put it simply it’s the loss of love. I guess we’ve all been there, trapped in the fog of melancholy carrying our loss back to the cathedral like Quasimodo.

This is my first holiday in eighteen months since the loss of love. “Excuse me may I borrow your strength for a minute”. said the elderly black American woman in front on the train to Paris. “It’s a respirator for my sister” she said.   And so I lifted her bag onto the shelf above and sat in the seat behind.  I changed trains in Paris and traveled on to southern France through fields of burnt bending Sunflowers. They seemed to bow as the train passed.

This morning I awoke in La Romieu.  It’s a quiet village surrounded by sun-sponged fields.  I examined my hands. The back. The front. There are no IMG_7961barnacle blisters.    I pushed my feet to the bottom of the sheets until my toes poked out. Something is different. It’s gone.  I think back and it’s as clear as day.

When the elderly black American  woman  said “excuse me can I borrow your strength”   she was giving me hers. She took the anchor from me.

16 thoughts on ““Excuse me can I borrow your strength”

  1. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece. I wish there were more people in my life who can lend me their strength. Isn’t that how we manage to survive: feeding off each others’ strength?

  2. Eighteen months is pretty remarkable: Used to take me at least three years and there was that on time I thought I might drown for not being able to snap the cable. The recovery down time (though you never enjoy it much) is wonderful fertiliser for your creativity and your openness to falling in love with fewer dependencies next time. Keep an eye out for some grail Congratulations 🙂

  3. Sad, moving, beautiful, inspirational. So pleased to hear you are free of the anchor that shackled you. Enjoy your holiday – fly with the birds and smile with the sunflowers!

  4. …beautiful…our human tribe do cling to their stories so…each soul knows loss in varying degrees but always all, every last man/woman/child, knows, feels pain…universal…our human condition.
    …exquisitely painted prose…poet, artist.
    nice one Lemn Sissay.

  5. One of the best things about travelling – especially getting away after loss of some kind – is the strangers you meet on the way. People you will never meet again, but who gift you in the shared moment. It’s only later you realise how enriched you’ve been.
    I love, ‘excuse me can I borrow your strength’. And it works both ways. It’s more than a matter of muscle. If you’re lonesome, the one who lifts your luggage, lifts your spirits for the day. Sometimes, for a whole lot longer.

  6. Hello Lemn
    It sounds to me that you have fallen
    In love with the Ravishing South of France…this Love will never leave you..

  7. Lemn,
    You are loved by people all over the world… Strangers that have been touched by your poetry respond with a deep love because you touch them (and me) deeply.

    What a gift you constantly give and in return, love surrounds you. Look past your empty arms and into the horizon where love lives. Open yourself to accepting love as it comes, not just romantically, but as an energy that is gravitating to you. May love always be with you and may you always feel the love that surrounds you.
    ❤️ M

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