Perpetual Motion Pendulum Girl. By Alyssa Cooper

Canadian Poet Alyssa Cooper currently living in Kingston, Ontario. First published in 2008, she is the author of four novels, a short story collection, and two poetry collections, as well as having her work included in various local and international publications. An active spoken word performer, she currently holds an executive position in the Kingston Poetry Collective and the Queen’s Poetry Slam planning committee.

Perpetual Motion Pendulum Girl

When I was young,
I thought that swing sets were
the way that they slowed time and softened
tiny black holes,
chains gripped in dirty fists,
like if I could just swing high enough –
make my weightless way into the sky –
then maybe I could come back down some place

And so, I pumped my legs like pistons,
thrust my chest until my heart slammed like
I made my tiny body into a pendulum,
a machine of perpetual motion,
and of course –
I never made it anywhere.
Because pendulums are bound to
their clocks,
because the dreams of children are like
fairy tales,
soft to touch and sweet to taste, like cotton candy
and kitten fur,
but beautiful lies are lies,
all the same.

And in those heavy summer swing set days,
I believed in love the way that some people
in God,
fervent and unswayable, like carving the stigmata
into my palms,
and gulping down the blood of Christ,
I believed in love like I believed
in gravity,
inarguable, undeniable,
because what else could be holding my feet to the
as I tried so desperately

to fly?

And I have wasted so much time looking for
looking for love at first sight,
this incomprehensible need to be one half of a
and how I wish I could tell that perpetual motion
pendulum girl to stop waiting,
wish I could take her in my arms and tell her that
she is her own portal,
that she is not half,
that though her palms may be bleeding,
she is not the wound, she is the blood –
she is the holy sacrament,
she is the pendulum that makes the clock tick,
that without her,
this world might cease to
exist –

that now, we are here.

We are here,
we are one –

and we are whole.


From this distance,
I can see the things that were not clear,
when I was so close that your sweat was
clouding my vision,
condensation on my windows,
blurring out the details –
I can see the things that mattered more
than love,
or adoration,
or commitment,
I can see the things that mattered more
than soulmates.
And from this distance
I can see the things that stood between us like
precarious and unsteady,
the things that drove us apart, like nails
hammered into flesh;
I can see those columns of real life,
and it is impossible to navigate between them
and make my way to you,
it is impossible to find an end to the maze
that lands me in your arms, and that is

This is not a story.

I am no swooning heroine.

There is no neat and braided plot line
that leads me to you,
no breadcrumb trail to bring me home,
there is no home at all and that

is okay.


When people ask,
which they rarely do, these days,
I tell them simply,

                 I was sick, but I am
better now,

which is not strictly the truth,
but it is not strictly a lie, either –
I may not be well, but I am better than
I was,
and surely the path to recovery is|
a kind of recovery,

in itself.

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