“This spirit she”

After Nadia Reid

This spirit she came upon me as I slept — in such a way
my life or yours could come to be so thoroughly owned — 
she was reckless — I knew she would make me run away
with her — I said spirit, slow down — but the spirit wanted
to ride — but I am so afraid, I said — I have all this tenderness
to impart — but the tenderness is not mine to give away — 
but all your tenderness is your own tenderness, said the spirit — 
it is not, I said — why then did you give it all away? — I did
not give it away — then it is yours to give away — the spirit
riddled like this — if in her arms I read a story — if out of her
arms I had the choice to write one but I chose not — chose not
because I did not know where I was going — because my path
broke down & I had this choice — stay or split — if I knew that
were I to split one part of me would become a ghost — if I did
not know yet which part — if the voice calling me out asked me
to describe the splitting & I did — if I said it was like smoke
spiraling outwards — it was like smoke lifting off me taking on
form & leaving me — if  it was like a delicate girl I never met
but dreamed of — if it was like the flags of my youth fluttering,
far out at sea — like breathing out a breath you will never take
back in — but you know you can never take any breath back in — 
if I saw her outside of myself & mourned her like I have mourned
no other loss — if I knew it was both a miracle & the most terrible
tragedy — to open up — release a flame — watch the flame go — 
have you seen it? A flame that can ride water — she was my
daughter & if I could I would send her to you, if I sent her to you
would you take her? Listen, I ran this out of me because I knew
it would burn me down — my trainers press the ground & lift up
again — I saw myself on my back in high grass in high summer
with everything coming to me — how this ghost left me & printed
a new person all over me — I could peel her off or live like this — 
I cried — one or both will destroy me! — the spirit called it fate but
I knew it was just drama — I will never know why a good person must die — 
fate does not exist I said, but every door I opened showed yes
yes yes — I shut each one & locked it — checked the locks
three times — went back & checked them again — shook them to be
sure — drew hearts round the keyholes so the spirit would know
I loved her — it wasn’t — it was never — that I didn’t love her — 

More Poems by Emily Berry