A friend I haven’t heard from in a while got in touch today. Our contact is sporadic but consistent. I have loved him in all the ways it’s possible to love someone over the last 21 years. I love him still. He’s had a rough month; a sliver of the hard news, his cat passed away in his arms a few weeks ago.
I once wrote a poem about her. Or about him. Or about us. Whatever it was about, it was called:
His cat is whoring herself
out to anyone
with a warm lap.
She chews on a belt loop
and looks up
when prodded to stop.
She sighs, stands, turns around and
returns to sleep.
It is surreal
or perhaps just
to think that life could be
She wakes again
murmurs and bathes
without leaving my lap.
Circa September 2010
Sleep, baby Piper. You were loved. You will be missed.
And in the distance
As barren hills are touched by black-tipped fingers
The fading light reminisces about the days it lingered
Over pots of tea with toast
Whispering sweet nothings to its only ghost.
Then the moon rolls across the inky sky
With a gut full of ache and his upside down smile
And he stops to rest in the furthest corner
Heaves in gasps as the solitary mourner
Closes his eyes just for a minute and
Imagines the days when he was thinner.
You breathed out slowly
than a sigh.
And as you did you wondered why
I don’t know why you like me, you said
But it wasn’t a question.
it was a statement. (A feeling of regret?
Did you think you were breaking my heart? You weren’t. I’d need to have one for that.)
Would you rather I didn’t? I replied, thinking you wanted to end that non-thing we had.
No. (You stop. Whisper, softer, again.)
I just know it will evaporate one day and I need to not rely on it.
You’ve said more since about friends and other lovers (not that I count myself as such)
who were there, then weren’t, or weren’t enough or, probably, just couldn’t be bothered
But it was all too late
I’d breathed you in
and haven’t breathed out since.
So now I pretend that we’re just friends
with nothing to convince
as we scramble round the edges of half-made thoughts and silent glances.
You’re complicated. You’ve said. I know. It doesn’t scare me.
But love does. Love hurts. (Apparently.) And you’re the first I’ve found who might, maybe be able to break me.
So I’ll hold this breath for as long as I can and you’ll have to leave me, not the other way around (but you’ll like that too, I know full well.)
I’m not going anywhere, no matter how hard you make it, too bad, so sad. (Ssshhhh. Don’t make a sound.)
And in the end when I finally breathe you out (turns out I do have a heart)
that last exhale
The words are lost inside me.
Stuck behind the lump in my throat.
Self-prescribing, I’m imbibing.
I have to let it go.
The rolling darkness echoes with hopes crashed on the shore.
Will it ever, can it ever be the way it was before?
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