At Love’s Altar


Cover art ‘At Love’s Altar’ Original, mixed media collage (c) 2020 Deborah McMenamy


You have come here unsure of all the reasons why. Flown across an ocean, the contrails of your previous life creating an ever-retreating wake. You have followed a trail of sparkling dancing lights. Intense markers on the horizon, placed there before your time. Before his. The lights have promised many things. Mostly to do with love.

There are barriers in the corridor, checkpoints for arriving passengers and tired bodies move within the lines beneath a mirrored ceiling; pulling suitcases, carrying bags and greetings and the hurry-hurry of connecting flights. The air is soft, hushed. There is a hue to it; the color of Spring after rain. Time is the dream you had last night and if you reach out you can hold it in your hand for the briefest moment. You can make it stop and search inside for answers.

He appears from nowhere, slipping silently from the crowd. You hug awkwardly. Like strangers would. He takes your hand in his, buys you coffee in a take-away cup. A fog has descended; a different century, a mystery to solve and you feel the heady rush of an approaching storm on the moors. You do not know what is happening. Neither of you do. The story has only begun.

The bodies keep moving. Now this way, now that. Up escalators, down into the bookshop, children skitter across the shiny floor.

You are dressed as a heroine from the 60’s; long flowing skirt and velvet top. He a hero from an 80’s movie; head-to-toe in denim. It is now the mid-90’s. If you were to look backwards towards your past you would see it standing, still as a sentry. Watching. Waiting. His past is here along with his present which is different to yours.

You speak in voices that belong to early morning. You cannot hear or focus on everything that is being said. Arrivals and departures fill the space between words, accents drift past as the two of you sit alone by the coffee kiosk.

You wonder about sacrifices made at love’s altar. Those seldom noticed until it is too late. And yet, there are times you make these willingly, hoping that sacrifice does not go unnoticed.

Now you take your bags and walk with him outside. Out here the sky is smooth and wide, a blue and endless field of clouds formed over an unfamiliar sea. Everywhere you look there are flowers; neat, tidy pots and beds in shades of red. Yellow. Purple. And everywhere is green. The urban landscape is a lush jungle of greens you have not seen before; a labyrinth colored by the diffused light of an unsure and foreign sun.

‘At Love’s Altar’ first published by Labello Press in the collection ‘At Love’s Altar’ (c) 2020

Revised version (c) 2022 Deborah McMenamy

All Rights Reserved