"Does she love me,
Does she not,
Tell me daisy, do...

Oh to be a child again,
Oaks from acorns grew,
One and one makes two,
I believed it all...

Didn't you?"

She waltzed into my life one night when a female acquaintance brought her to my home.

She was drunk, her eyes laced with passion, and fire.
"Dance with me!" she said.
"I don't dance," I replied.
"Oh but you must dance, you must know how to move..." she countered.
"I know how to move," I replied.

I was sober, my eyes laced with passion, and fear.

She is, when she is right: vivacious, intelligent, passionate, calm, beautiful, loving,
sympathetic, romantic, interested, and mine.

She is also, more than anyone I've ever known, completely and hopelessly all alone.

She had learned at an early age that the way in which people expressed their love was
by screaming at one another. Her parents screamed at her, at each other, and at her sister;
the sister screamed at her, and at her parents; she screamed at her parents, and at her sister.
They must have screamed at themselves when each was alone. This must be how people
expressed their love, she learned, for this is what her family did, and certainly they loved
each other.


This was what she learned.

There is a fish, a brightly colored darter. This fish builds a nest. Around this nest it performs
its dance, a seductive invitation to other, larger fish. This dance says: "Come close, let me
swim in and out of your gills and mouth, and we will both benefit. I, by feeding,
and you, by my cleansing." Thus do they coexist. This is nature's way.

There is another fish which bears a great resemblance to the brightly colored darter.
This fish builds a similar nest, around which it performs a similar and equally
seductive dance. This dance says: "Come close, just... come close..." Its jaws
expand to an absurd size. With these jaws it tears huge chunks of flesh from the sides
of the other, larger fish. The other, larger fish hurry away, shocked and wounded.
Sometimes, they die. Thus do they coexist.

This, also, is nature's way.

She has called me child, faggot, ugly, naivé, brutal, cruel, selfish,
boring, silly, ridiculous, bastard, jerk.

I have called her bitch, fool, crazy, cunt, thoughtless, hopeless,
lost, insane, vicious, wasted, mean, cold.

We are in love.

In her childhood, she would call out to the family dog, inviting it to play,
and, when it approached, tail wagging, she would scold it, and drive it away.
Over and over again. For hours on end.

This, she remembers one day, to her horror.

This, she reenacts with the people in her life.
Over and over again.
For years on end.

She has, through months of gnawing, carved me into a gilded mirror for her rage.

I am reduced by her.

She has been diagnosed, she tells me, as manic-depressive and obsessive-compulsive,
by "a number" of psychiatrists.

She did not believe them, she tells me.
She did not trust them, she tells me.

The Prescriptions:
Pamelor, Lasix, Diazepam, Ativan, Darvon, Aldactone, Librium, Valium,
Ridalin, Codeine, and others, too numerous to recall.

The world
is a circle
without beginning
or end

She takes her prescriptions in doses and combinations without method. Whether they
do her good, or harm, is a mystery with no possible resolution.

When this erratic brew of medication fails; when the current running through her
becomes overwhelming; when she finds herself going at the world like a dervish aflame—
there is always a medication of last resort.

Alchohol, in quantity, stops the pain.
Alchohol, in quantity, relaxes her for a moment.

Alchohol, in quantity, makes her quite mad.

And ill.

And suicidal.

The world
is a circle
without beginning
or end

The people at the hospitals know my face. I visit regularly.
I have always refused to believe that a person can be doomed, beyond help,
on a tragic road from which there is no escape.

I may be wrong about this, but nonetheless, I visit regularly.
They know my face.

I am putting on her sneakers, because it is time to go to the hospital and I think
that she should wear shoes. I don't want her feet to get cold.

She is calm, for the moment.

Her sweatshirt is covered with blood, her hands are covered with blood, the kitchen walls
are covered with blood, the carpeting is covered with blood, her bedspread is covered
with blood, and I am putting on her sneakers because I don't want her feet to get cold.

She is calm, for the moment, and she asks for a drag from my cigarette, which I give to her.
She turns it in her hand so that the ember is pointed toward her, and she draws it slowly,
thoughtfully, to her cheek. I snatch it from her hand, sling her over my shoulder,
and carry her down to the car. I forget her sneakers.

I'm still hoping her feet won't get cold.

At times, our relationship is like this:
She lunges and bites / I try to keep her from drawing blood.
At times, that is what our relationship is like...
For hours on end, for days on end, for weeks on end, over and over again.

At times: I had saved her life; I was the dearest man she had ever known; I was patient
beyond belief; I understood her in a way that no one else could; I was sweet,
brilliant, compassionate...

At other times, in another state of mind: She would crawl through the shit of her madness
and dredge up whatever weapon she felt would cause the most pain. In the beginning,
she succeeded memorably.

In the beginning.

I love her, a side of her.
The other side I want dead, dead and buried.

Revelation. Mental Health, 18 hours after the 30 or so Ativan, the police finding her
in the mud, the stomach-pumping, all that.

She tells me, in a rare moment of self-appraisal, that she has realized why she uses
her rage against those she loves. That it is a test, that she tries to drive them away
to see if they, when pushed beyond human limits, will come back to her,
to prove her worth, to prove their love, to make her secure.

This, she tells me, in a rare moment of self-appraisal.

She is a tornado I have willfully walked into.

Why am I here? I have asked myself this question since day one. I have wondered
whether or not it is her beauty alone which keeps me bound, but I know that
that is not enough. It might be enough in other cases, but it cannot be enough in this case,
it is not nearly enough in this case, and so, why am I here?

As I walked in she was sliding down the refrigerator door, hit the floor, and rolled onto her side.
I stooped and took her in my arms, pleading with her, what's wrong, what's wrong? She told me
that she was blind, that she couldn't see. I held my fingers up, asked her how many. She missed on
four of six tries, not a good sign. I held my lighter in front of her eyes and saw no movement,
no response. I dragged her to the car while she fought to get away. I signed a commitment sheet,
again. I watched her rave for hours on a hospital bed. I saw her sit up, look at me, and scream
in terror. I listened to her rant at the nurses trying to help her. I cried.

She told me that she would never forgive me for locking her up; that the blindness was just an act;
that I had done the wrong thing. Okay.


There is an eight-ball on the expansive green of a billiard table. It is at rest. She places
the cue-ball a short distance away, chalks her stick, takes her stance, aims, and strikes.
The eight-ball caroms wildly off the cushions, slams and falls into the side pocket, what a shot!
She scolds the eight-ball for its lack of control. She does not make the connection between
her action and its reaction. She rarely makes connections. It was a test, an unpassable test.
She rages: the eight-ball has failed, should have resisted, should have remained at rest,
should have checked the map she follows for its proper course.

She does not make the connection.

She. Just. Rages.

December 5th, 3:00 a.m.: She wakes me, she is in my face. Drunk and raving, yet another
alchoholic justification speech, another tirade to dismiss the failed suicide attempts,
the physical collapses, the ruined life, the refusal to look at herself. Everything is all right.
Everything is just as it should be. I don't remember what she says that sets me off,
I don't remember, though I am sure it has been said a hundred times before.

I have her pinned to the chair, my hands in her hair and around her throat. I am screaming
into her face that she must stop. I am hoping that the sheer volume of my pleas will be
the answer that I have searched in vain for all these months. What I want most in the world
is to strangle her, to put an end to her endless misery, but I do not, and I am thinking:
How have I come to this? This is new, I have never done this before, this is not me,
this is me becoming what she requires, this is not me.

We move inexorably toward brawl. I am more frustrated, more tense, more at wit's end
than I have ever been. I do not strike her. I throw her to the floor. She rages, comes at me,
bangs me with her purse, and I throw her to the floor. She kicks me, I grab her purse and
bash her with it. She tries to slap me, I throw her to the floor, we are screaming, she works
her fucking magic, I push her out the door, she kicks me, I throw her to the floor, squeezing her,
pulling her across the carpet, begging her to stop, to leave me alone, she tries to embrace me,
she wants a hug, what, a hug, we embrace, she breaks away, rages, she swings a metal chair
at me, I grab her arms and throw her to the floor, again, she kicks me, I scream at her to stop,
to leave me the fuck alone, to stay away, to stop, I throw her to the floor, again, her head
hits hard, she feigns unconciousness, how do I know, I know, seven months of fucking games
is how I know, I slap her and ask her to come to so I can throw her out, her eyes snap open,
blazing defiance, it worked, I was right, how did I know I was right, am I learning something
from this, she kicks me, I throw her out the door, I'm throwing her purse at the far wall,
I'm screaming get the fuck out, out, I slam the door, she's trying to break the window
with her purse, I throw her out, this is not me, this is not me, this is what she wants,
at last, at last I am what she wants.

I have held her while the sun sets.
I have held her in the moonlight.
I have held her in the cold and wind.
I have held her in the snow and rain.
I have held her on streetcorners.
I have held her in doorways.
I have held her on the floor.
I have held her while she comes, and comes.
I have held her while she laughs, and laughs.
I have held her while she cries, and cries.
I have held her through days of withdrawals and convulsions.
I have held her in Intensive Care.
I have held her in Mental Health Wards.
I have held her while she trembled in fear.
I have held her in Emergency Rooms.
I have held her in doctor's offices.
I have held her to protect her from herself.
I have held her to protect myself from her
I have held her, am still holding her, will always hold her.


LOVETORN was written as the sun rose on December 5th, because I simply did not know
what else to do at that point. Subsequent to this first year, I stayed with her for nearly six more months.
About four years after the events described above, she died, alone, of a drug and alchohol overdose
at 44 years of age—still beautiful and writhing with demons. [—RL]

May 20, 1948 - September 24, 1993

The Deep Digging;
The Incantations;

The Inspirations;
All These Words...


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Rick Lopez