Stepping into Love

I didn’t notice my heart was swollen
until I held it out and looked at it in the light
I didn’t see how bruised it was
until I turned it on it’s side

I put it on the kitchen counter
studied it for a while
through thick veins and blood
I could just make out your smile

Within the guts and gore
of this wee beating thing
I found your fingerprint
pressed against it’s skin

As I took a closer look
I made a promise to myself
to never fall in love again,
to step gently there instead.

Falling is not consensual
I tripped into your mess
Stood up with grazed knees,
shiny eyes and I believed…

We lived together
Winter in a single bed.
Snow has a way of silencing things
Those snowflakes were relentless

Covering and smothering us
We kept each other warm
by screaming at night into the sleet.

I’ve been noticing how
I describe love
The old fashioned way
desperately trying to keep hold

Smitten is the past tense of to

‘to strike down, injure or slay’
I hit myself hard
every day.

We talk about love, hand in hand
with violence, menace.
It’s the whirlwind romances
that spin us into craziness

I can’t.
Do this.

Sorry Beyonce
I no longer want crazy,
In love I want sanity first,
Self care to come second to none


I want to hold my own hand.
Grip my own palm.
I don’t want to be love struck
I want to be invited in

I don’t want to be crushed on
I want to open up
I don’t want to be sick
Or mad in love

It was lonely on that pedestal
you placed me on
I grew a vertigo that lay low
more chipped away everyday

Sliced into my stomach, found only hunger.
The snow started to melt
When did we start measuring love
by poor mental health?

In TV and film
Jack and Rose,
Noah and Aillie
Romeo and Juliet.

We are told love is not love unless
it is tragic, traumatic,
when did we decide that obsession
and illness was romantic.

I lost parts of myself
inside you
I didn’t even notice
until you had left

I never knew it was possible
for someone to leave
while they still slept
in your bed.

I am not innocent,
I was
of course
a participant.

It’s hard to accept

I offered myself up
That’s what love was worth
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
is to love and be loved in return.


I look at this blazing heart
lying on it’s back
I’m amazed it’s still together
pretty much intact

it has been frantic
a fugitive
running into walls
to heal I must


I will find intimacy
in the quiet corners of my flat
when I am alone
peeling my skin back

to reveal that
I have everything
I need
right here.


I’ve met someone else - she is limitless
she has no time for fickleness
she sees the world through doors not windows
she is not afraid of her shadows.

Every morning she wakes up and welcomes the
day with singing in the shower,
washing away the grime of yesterday
but she does not shy away

from the filth of life in fact she loves that dirt
and plants in it her strength
flowers in venerability,

she is good to me.

Her name in Leyla,
It is great to see her again,
I know you know the feeling
of coming back into the light.

I have so much
more to give now
I’m going to be just

I pick up my heart
it is a blue warm
I open my ribs
and place it back

It waits patiently
to slowly,
step back into love.

by Leyla Josephine

Originally published in Best Intentions 


Follow Leyla - @LeylaJosephine1

Dale McMullen