Bittersweet Alchemy

Nicole Ann
3 min readSep 5, 2022

Energy doesn’t die. It just changes form.
A poem about the ephemerality of life and love.

Photo by brandon siu on Unsplash

“Ships that pass in the night,
and speak each other in passing,
only a signal shown,
and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life,
we pass and speak one another,
only a look and a voice,
then darkness again and a silence.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Bittersweet Alchemy

A breezy spring day,
Washed down with
A cup of golden milk
Haldi —
The spice of life
Elixir of youth.

My lover beside me
Nonchalant
Silent
In the language we spoke
All too well,
The familiarity of
Insouciance,
Ashes of
Indifference.

Then you stepped in
Alchemy
Happened instantly
Ashes no more,
A phoenix, reborn!
The flames
Roaring
Daytime sorcery
Current electricity
Pulsating
From you —
Vibrating
Through me.

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

And so my gaze turned,
A compass,
Seeking north
True or magnetic
It hardly mattered.

From silence
Conversation, resurrected,
But where we met,
Was in another space
The one beyond words
Sailors
On a voyage
Patiently —
Following the stars.

The conversation flitted,
With joyful ease
And you said,
Joy isn’t the same as peace,

Words

Bypassing intellect,
Piercing spirit,
Everything
Said and unsaid
O, language of the heart —
No translation needed.

My body, possessed
As was my bed
But your conversation
Soulful connection
Never left my head
My heart, in a state
Of perpetual unrest
How could I?
After all —
He was your friend.

We knew what it was
Better to forget
Forsake
Erase
While in the sweet Shangrila
Of monks and monasteries
Seekers of peace
Light
Simplicity
Far away from the gallows,
And plutonian dirges
Of shadowed intimacy.

Stolen moments
Cups of spicy chai
A master once told me
A whole world exists
In a single cup of tea
Flavours, a mystery
Until the cup
Touches your lips
Then you know
If it is bitter or sweet.

Bittersweet,
Ours was both —
If that cup were in my hands,
I would one day know
The inevitable sorrow
Of putting it down,
Letting it go.

Photo by Tamara Schipchinskaya on Unsplash

When you returned
I was at the airport
Ready to leave,
Ships that pass in the night,
Almost touching
Seeing the light
To wave each other —
A hopeful greeting;
A midnight goodbye.

The flames,
Flickering
North Star,
Fading
Sirens wailing
To the ebb of tides,
The moon waning.

That breezy spring day
Became a blistering summer
Red autumn
Flames died
Nothing left to melt
Austere, icy winter
Ashes to ashes
Buried beneath the frost
Seasons danced
Time played on,
But that breezy spring day
Stayed in my mind.

Seasons became years,
I stayed by his side
A betrayal
To both him and me
He knew
He could read
Feel
See
Even before
Truth
Bruised my body,
And my soul was free.

Freedom
Lightness
Ether
I met you there
In that space,
True north
Fire became water
The phoenix,
A dove
Soft and yielding
To divine alchemy.

We wandered amongst roses
No more hiding
In twilight’s shadows,
A hallowed surrender
To the innocence of daylight
Indian summer
Drinking life’s honeyed nectar
Heaven on earth
It is here
It is here
Hameen ast o…

Photo by me

Things could have been
Very different,
You said to me.
They come together
They fall apart
Together.
Apart.
I replied.

Then you left
One kiss
And strutted briskly
No looking back
Time’s procession
Marched on
Apart
And together again…

Qismat
Karma
Sabr
Anicca
It was written,
The cause, created
Patience.
Patience.
Patience.
Like the seasons,
Everything changes.

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Nicole Ann

BA English/Religious Studies. Currently studying psychology.