This Tenderness

The soft, dawn light flowed
through cheap, be-flowered curtains
flickering and swaying upon his face,
upon his hands and his eloquent, beautiful body

the light flowed upon the tangled, rough sheets
the light was rosey and lilac touched
a confusion of passion and tenderness.
and eyes closed, he asked her..."What do you want?"

and she, bedraggled and confused as the light
she, who had always chosen passion over love,
who preferred heat and illusion to reality
she, who left men torn and shattered in the dawn, did not know

she only felt, with passing sorrow,
that their passion was stilted, forced,
and he seemed lonely and tired
of being asked to be something he was not

yet his tenderness toward her was raw and real,
and if he left her, she knew that this time
she would be the one to tear and shatter in the dawn
for when he touched her burning, aching arms,

carressed her knotted scars, her radiated skin
when he stroked her swollen joints and soft shorn hair,
when he reassured her, over and over again
in his quiet, unassuming voice

she knew he loved her and her broken brutalized body,
and love was such a strange country
and his tenderness was so raw and real
his tenderness felt as if it would last a thousand years,

a thousand lives, beneath the surface waiting
patient, faithful waiting ...always and forever waiting for her
and what she wanted was for this tenderness,
this love to never end.

(c) 2011 J.L. Stanley