Saturday 9 March 2019

Thirteen years

When I was seventeen,
I was obsessed with a girl
I dreamt would make me king.

My god,
the insanity of standing by her
in canteen queues—
the air between
against my shirt.
The shock and clarity
of stealing glimpses
in her eyes

meant speaking words to her
was flames against the roof of my mouth.

Sarah. Her name was Sarah
and I never gave up hope.

Thirteen years on,
she was a memory
made manifest in you.
I was seventeen again
in canteen lines
and restless behind the desks
of classrooms,
staring at the back of your head
and feeling the air erupt
in the wake of your dress.

But this time:
a look my way,

an opening

and victory.

Thirteen years on,
touching lips with you
meant making out with Sarah
by the lockers
when all the other kids
were stuck in class.
I was seventeen again

but a king
who’d never quit on hope.

There you were,
there she was,
in my arms at last
on a Friday after school.
No shooting blanks at life,
no weekend angst.
Just the girl,
the stirrups
and that wild run.

As graduation hits
for a second time,

I can’t tell
if I’m leaving as a ghost
from the scene of a crash
outside the gates of school

if we’re splitting
for you're moving away
for uni.

I hope the second.

I hope to see you again
in thirteen years.

That open door

I’ve been angry at you,
have not been able to cry it out
for some days

—a baron dam
dug out and
flipped over

but still
not a drip.

You’d implied
you loved me more
than he

you’d left.

I’ve been angry,
have refused to know
the human in you
—have thought that love is mere feed
for reptilian truths.

But this morning I woke to memories
of when I’d chosen anything else
from random sex to plane tix—
over love.

Perhaps you’d run
like I had run.
Perhaps the truth was



In any case,
any way I can call to mind the humanness,
any way I’m able to cry,
means a way to recall
that anger puts a broken heart to bed

but love

helps it to its feet,
helps it to its pants

though painful it may be,
helps it hobble
to that open door.