Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

“What if…?”

“If only…”

“Will I ever…?”

Run through my lonely mind

Like a skipping phonograph left to run,

The words echoing like Chinese water torture

In the silence of my emptiness.

Filling the void by filling my bed—

Uncleanliness lingers after lust prevails,

Requiring more than soap to wash away

The impurity of putrid passion

In the arms of a stranger;

A reminder of what I don’t have

Once the encounter is over.

Loneliness intensified by a line of lovers

Who vanish after taking their fill

Leaving me with

“What if…?”

“If only…”

“Will I ever…?”

But friendship turns loneliness to solitude,

For even when absent, a friend is there,

Present in my life is not present in my sight.

Solitude is filled with




Whereas loneliness is a bottomless chasm

That all the physical presence in the world cannot fill.

The gift of a willing ear,

A knowing smile,

And unconditional trust

Alleviates the pain and

Elevates my soul to a heightened awareness

That absent does not mean gone

And that solitude can be a

Precious prelude to intimacy.


Lifting the needle from the phonograph,

I smash the vinyl disk

Like the outdated mode that it is,

Confidant that I can hear the

Golden silence of solitude.


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