Once I said I loved her nothing grander seemed to follow.  I rooted round inside my head for something
sweet and wise, prosaic words and phrases, and none more eloquent or satisfying than what I'd said. 
We settled for I love you, and moved on from there. Elise is the kind of woman for whom men put to sea,
take up arms, and pray in lonely solitude and for that, she cannot be kept, only borrowed.  Our vows were strong, convictions firm, but temptations ever close.

I felt the interloper's nudging early on, gravitating toward her with the slow canter of controlled pride and cunning.  There is something both arrogant and poetic in illicit courtships after marriage, something that quickens desire and emboldens the nerve.  Dreams are not abandoned nor hope extinguished by a ceremonial act.  And hearts cannot be controlled by will or want, but only by love instinctually felt.

His bidding passion, though unspoken and never acknowledged, simmered just beneath his every move, each act a cautionary tale for hearts that listen.  So slyly done, Elise did not see it coming - the transfer of her feelings so
real, so final.  I cannot fix the day or moment of my loss, but it registered in the deep and shallow of my entire being.
Letting loose the only heart I had ever wished to hold, I cannot help but ponder why we chase after the ephemeral, hope to cage it.  I wonder, too, at the alchemy of mind and passion and their incessant struggle balance. Mostly, I resolve to pen a finer opus, cast a wider net, whatever might someday stir her soul and lure her heart once more, however fleeting.

Dixon Hearne teaches and writes in southern California.  His work has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and his new book, Plantatia: High-toned and Lowdown Stories of the South, is nominated for a 2010 PEN/Hemingway award.  Other work appears in Post Road, Cream City Review, Wisconsin Review, Louisiana Literature, Roanoke Review, Mature Living and other magazines and journals.  He is currently at work on a novel and another poetry collection. Opus Eternal first appeared in Dixon's self-published chapbook, Threads and Touchstones.

Books and movies are replete with tales of tender hearts being lured astray. How many, I wonder, are reclaimed in real life? Stalwart love doesn't yield to fear and repining. Instead, it summons determination to rediscover what ignited the flame and rekindle it. Too often, readers and viewers are left with the fallacious assumption that the secret lover is be a better choice. History teaches something quite different -- hearts are won and lost as much by whim as by wooing. Love is blind and ever fickle, and therein lies the eternal struggle.



Copyright 2009