This poem was the first-place winner in Ancient Paths literary magazine’s “Poem for Books Contest.”
Beautiful Beloved by Linda Lee McDonald
Beautiful beloved, when I first met you, my back was wedged against a closet door trying to keep the monsters inside
and in my hand, for luck, was a penny. I thought it was a dollar or a thousand dollars or all of the dollars I would ever need in my whole expensive life. But, it was really just a penny. A green penny -- only a vague outline of Lincoln.
Beautiful beloved, in a move I did not see coming you slew the biggest monster in my closet and then instructed me in killing: hold this one by the neck, hold that one by the tentacles. You even made me kill the ones I had tried to tame as pets.
Then you asked me for the penny -- no, you pried it from my hand. And replaced it with gifts: an emerald tree frog mist curling the base of a hill the shocking leap of a gazelle a spring of lilac, the bright moment light shines through water.
Beautiful beloved, my revelation is this: I am no longer here for your miracles or your power or your messages from angels or even for an entrance into the golden eternity you built with your hands; I am here for this reason:
when loneliness echoed inside of me like a small coin dropped down a deep well, thin copper tick tick ticking against stone walls -- such a long way down like breath held too long -- I didn't see how the mouth of this well was the jagged maw of a beast.
You caught what there was left to catch: when you touch me, I want nothing else.
Beautiful beloved, I love you because you make me trust the shimmering fish skin of hope. I love you because you make me feel like the girl I never was, never thought I could be -- you make me feel like some beautiful, happy girl on a porch on a purple summer evening and you are my sweet first kiss.