Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Shards of Summer

Part 2 of In the Footsteps of Spring, an exploration of the coming out process as a spiritual journey.

The following poem seeks to give voice to that part of my coming out journey when, though out to myself, I remained closeted from others. It was a period of my life that lasted approximately ten years – from about age eighteen to twenty-eight.

In describing this experience I employ imagery derived from the long hot summers of my youth in Australia.

(NOTE: For an introduction to In the Footsteps of Spring, click
here. For Part 1: “The Light Within,” click here.)


Shards of Summer
By Michael J. Bayly

Shards of summer can pierce me still.
Out to myself but hidden from others,
I live in the agonizing heat of indecision,
seared by regret, and thirsting
not only for acknowledgment and acceptance,
but the tender caress of a lover.

Summer was always a torturous season.
Upon the beach, at the pool, by the river;
sights deemed forbidden would give delight
that unable to express or share
turned bitter.

Desire twists as a thorny branch within me,
leaving a festering wound no balm can soothe.
Fear reduces the rapt visioning
of every potential ally and lover
to the casual observance
of passing strangers.

A furtive season, summer;
one of side-long glances and cautionary stares.
The flames of desire flare destructively
beneath the lid of secrecy and fear.
It is my soul that they scorch,
my self-esteem that they blacken and scar.

At times I hardly recognize myself,
so dark, so desperate my longings –
my soul’s faithful companions
in suffocating heat.

The relief I manage to grasp
is fitful and fleeting.
And of the kind
that stains with guilt and shame.

The walls of my closet-prison close ever inwards.
I know intimately every board, brick, nail, and bolt.
And, in time, every crack.

For something deep within me refuses to die.
Something in the depths of my being cries out
against a life bound by walls
and gagged by fear.

These cracks, minute it’s true,
bear testament to the silent,
relentless work of a deeper Self;
And whisper to me of the undying presence
of the Sacred within.

These cracks are living, growing things,
and reflect a dim flickering hope;
A hope, which like a seed,
sends forth shoots of courage,
and holds forth a trembling promise:
the promise of a new life,
a new and different
season of spring.

NEXT: Part 3: “Intimate Soliloquies”

Photography: Greg Thompson

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
In the Footsteps of Spring: Introduction
In the Footsteps of Spring: Part 1 - “The Light Within”


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, if very painful, poem, Michael. It makes me wonder how anyone could assent to a moral teaching that creates this kind of personal suffering in another. The marvel is that you grew from the suffering. I'm thankful for that. I cry for the people who are emotionally and morally crippled by it.


Anonymous said...

"Shards of Summer" is beautiful, touching, and well written. It deftly reflects the pain/beauty of coming out. Many young people will be comforted by this.