Yesterday

He calls from far away
To find out if I’m Ok

Ok?

We left ok behind some time ago
Have you seen the numbers here

His voice just fades away

He talks about the weather
His getting worse, mine getting better

He is just a noise in the background now

He’s read bout viral load
And treatment, maybe cure

No one mentions vaccines anymore

There is just the stunned silence of reality

Immune systems, vitamins

Have you been working out?
Hope you’re well, All good here
Meaningless words,
All tinged with fear

I breathe in, I breathe out

I breathe in, I breathe out

Breathing is in itself,

An act of joy,

Of hope

There are things I want to say

A long lost explanation
About why I went away

I have lived out in the world

I am not sorry for it

It was a choice I made

There is silence on the line

Then he talks of the economy
I try and pretend I care

I look at my nails,

Twiddle my fingers in my hair

I no longer lie awake at night
And think of him
The night is full of horrors
I know that I can’t share
He wants to know if I’m ok
I can’t think of the words to say
The pain of thousands dead
Will never go away

The pain it is unbearable

Intangible

Yet palpable

We are all scarred forever

We will wear it like a mark

For all eternity

They will talk of us in whispers

Stare when we come in the room

I know he’ll call again
And it will still be all too soon
Because we are worlds away
Yet I haven’t got the words to say

Something moved me on

And us, me, we,

That was yesterday

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Mort-i-fied

I feel like an outsider.

In my own skin

As if I tugged it on over my organs this morning

Fresh and new.

I don’t recognise the face?

It is peaceful and calm

But there are parts that are not mine,

The nose perhaps.

Perhaps I will own the nose

But the rest cannot be mine.

I look at the wrinkled hands

They should be red from years of washing up

The water was always too hot

Red from detergent overuse

Flaky from hanging out wet washing

Yet they look pale and unyielding

The hands I decry as not mine.

The legs, more stumpy,

not long and elegant as I remember.

The toenails,

a variety of yellow and greens,

browns and grey.

Those are not the colours of a rainbow

the colour of toes worn down

years of shoes that never fitted,

shoes that were damp and fusty.

Before trainers were de rigueur.

I want to look at my breasts

They are covered by the dress

but I can see they are sagging

down and to the side.

These flaps of skin that once affronted me,

both literally and in metaphor,

they were so often in the way when I was young,

These saggy heaps of flesh are not mine.

I wonder at my ability to look so calm.

People mill around.

They are looking at me,

but not really seeing me.

I can hear them talking.

they are all talking about me.

Nice words.

None of it is about how I look.

I wonder what crazed event this is.

Is it a dream?

A place where everyone talks of how much they like you.

This is definitely not the internet.

Then someone hands me a program

I look carefully at the words.

‘Oh, I see,’

I say loudly but no one hears.

This is my funeral.

The Scent of Nadia

He slides into bed beside her
She feigns asleep
She wonders what he is thinking
He’s brushed his teeth.
The minty smell of toothpaste
Does he think that is enough
She inhales, exhales, inhales
There it is.
A waft, a wave, that smell

The scent of Nadia

He lies there.
He wonders if she is actually asleep
She must be asleep
If she were awake
She would smell it
The vision of bodies tangled in the night
Hovers above him
He inhales, exhales, inhales
There it is.
Holding tight to his skin

The scent of Nadia

Nadia sleeps alone
Solid, physical, in a bed far away
Dreamless sleep
The room has no smell that she can sense
She sometimes feels the loneliness
Of his dishonesty
In the morning she gets up
Her head clear
She inhales, exhales, inhales
Moves the bottles around in the bathroom
Cleanser, moisturiser, perfume

The scent of Nadia

They eat breakfast at the same time
At the same table
Each one is alone
Each one showered, shaved, perfumed,
Ready to go out into the world
As they eat, he wonders
Is that a whiff of suspicion
Does she smell a rat?

She does not smell rats
She stares purposefully into her cereal
If cereal has a purpose it is to make breakfast longer
It needs more milk
She quite likes the perfume
Wonders if Nadia likes women,
Inhales, imagines, exhales, swallows, inhales to hide it
Tries to place the smell, Its quite floral, Daisy?

He wonders if she senses it.
She senses it and wonders what it is.
Nadia stands in her bathroom
And dabs it on

The scent of Nadia.

The screw

Long red fingernails slide over long held convictions
Flicking remorse and regret across the bed and out the door

Do you know what you’re doing here?

Do you think its desire?

In a game of he said, she said,
he said always wins.

Do you know what you’re doing here?

Do you think it’s a game?

Truth is a scar you can never erase
It throbs in a darkness.

You can never escape.

Do you know what you’re doing here?

Do you think it’s a sin?

Sanctimonious conviction is a dark red welt on your back
Words you said under pressure.

You can never retract.

Crass comments in public, they shame you
You hide from the light, like an-

Emu?

Your head in the sand, you think you are grand
But you know you’re not right, secrets don’t hide.

Even at night.

Do you know what you’re doing here?

Do you think about power?

The things you held onto out in the dark
Were nebulous and cold and forever apart.

You put on a suit and a tie
But you are no more than the sum of your lie

Do you know what you’re doing here?

You never owned the minds even as you played with the bodies

You can hold it forever until you are dead
But desire and power were all in your head

Yours was a moment paid for with cash
Gone in an instant, no more than a flash

Do you know what you’re doing here?

They thought different thoughts to what you think that they thought.

And now in your coffin, you’re all cold and all still
They go on singing, they dance and they laugh
While deep underground the worms eat their fill.

Do you know what you did here?