Black Sheath Dress

by Ken Harnisch

She looked good in a black sheath dress
And I, who was bold in the dark
But always circumspect at work
Never told her this. But where it counts, I stirred
And let my body write the words of appreciation

She was doomed before we said hello;
I had my heart wrenched by one
While about to give it to another.
She was caught in the vise between them
And couldn’t have done a thing right
Even if I gave her leave to try.

She tried anyway; I think now she loved me
Far more than I was able
And longed for me to say the words
That never formed themselves as shadow
On heart or soul. It was nothing
She did or didn’t do. Caught in the whirlwind
Of in-between
She could only reap the sand

She taught me I could be reptilian:
Impervious, cold, and cruel. She taught me
That the sanctimony I felt towards my own
Shattered heart never extended to any
That I had tossed aside like so much chaff;
She taught me that love, once pure,
Could render you a hypocrite when
The tables were turned and you where the one
Doling out the shoulders made of stone.

I’d tell her this now because in all
The years, I think she was the only one who saw that
Darker, colder side. And still, she kept on coming
Until I made it obvious she needn’t bother anymore.

My loss, I sometimes think with a smile,
Because, my oh my, she looked so good
In a black sheath dress.


Author's Note: Sometimes, if we're honest, we must consider that we were the villains in a few of our own stories.

Posted on 07/09/2010
Copyright © 2021 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Alison McKenzie on 07/09/10 at 06:59 PM

"She could only reap the sand"...for some reason, this absolutely touches me. It is not easy to find the courage to face our own shadows or what that means for others; so much easier to point out the shadows on the other side of the street. But there is also, at least there has been for me, huge empowerment to be discovered in dealing with the things that I can change, which are only those things within. Thank you for this Ken.

Posted by George Hoerner on 07/09/10 at 08:26 PM

Oh yes, I still recall the face slap. It was the only one but I have no doubt I deserved more. Really well written Ken.

Posted by Linda Fuller on 07/10/10 at 01:12 AM

Ken, I like this poem - really feel for that woman - appreciate your author's note.

Posted by James Zealy on 07/10/10 at 05:14 PM

I can so identify with this. I have been a villain in my own stories more times than I would like to admit.

Posted by Morgan D Hafele on 07/10/10 at 08:29 PM

sometimes were are the villains in our own stories, villain or not, an excellently portrayed story!

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 07/11/10 at 09:43 PM

the pain, the naked alone pain

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 07/11/10 at 09:44 PM

I meant You wrote this so well that I can feel the pain.

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