The Cardinal Directions

By Reagan Kaelle, TIWP Student

“He was my North, my South, My East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”

— W.H. Auden

North is cold: white hair and ice chips for eyes, always watching, never halting his relentless persona. He hides behind walls of ice and frostbite. But North can be benevolent too, like the snow that settles on trees, a pale blanket bringing beauty. He is the solemn guidance that the North Star radiates. North’s words are like icicles, harsh blades that leave nothing to the imagination. But when faced with enough warmth, North can melt.

South is soft. She graces the world with blonde ringlets and gentle eyes. Her hands give forth the very warm winds that undo North’s icy curse. But South can be passionate. She can warm to the point of burning, impulsively scorching all around her. Where North may be stoic, South is zealous. Her serene demeanor can disappear in a moment, only to be replaced by what one can only call a monster.

East is slippery silk. She will do anything to survive, quick and cunning. She whips around looking for a place to call home. West is loyal, clinging to those who show him support. He will always be there for you. But unlike East, he has no sense of self-preservation.

All four cardinal directions: pushing and warring at opposite ends of a compass, guiding and leading. But nobody sees the looks that North shares with South, the way that South’s eyes light up when they meet North’s blue orbs. West and East somehow miss the exchange. Most of all, their watchful eyes lapse when North and South fall in love. But it is a catastrophic tale.

Northwest. Northeast. Southwest. Southeast. All suitable pairs, able to work together. Always in the right place at the right time. Have you even heard of Northsouth? No. That would upset the natural order because South helps to thaw North and North steadies South. Opposites attract but the rules of the world declare that North and South can never be together. And so they watch each other from opposite ends of the compass, the one with eyes like ice chips and the one with the lovely curls—so close but so far. Maybe one day they will wake up and come to the realization that nothing will change and the eons they have spent hiding from East and West—patiently waiting until they can finally be together, with nothing stopping them—have been wasted. Maybe then they will move on. But in reality that will never happen because if there is one thing that all four cardinal directions share, it is consistency. They can never change.

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