when you leave me alone

I’m okay for a couple of hours and then, like a fog, your absence erases all the details. And I can’t keep warm so the kettle’s always brewing and the cups pile up around the sink, marking the hours.

I reposition inanimate objects so that they have a better view of the garden and I move ornaments so that their shadows are more pronounced. I stay awake until the early hours watching minor Westerns; anything to avoid getting into a cold, empty bed.

I play the records you always find too melancholy – Red House Painters, Stars Of The Lid. Forget to take my medicine.
And then I walk up the hill and stand on the street corner in all weathers as if, like a lighthouse, I can somehow miraculously show you the way back. The clock sometimes seems to hold the seconds and the sky sometimes seems to hold the birds.

When you leave me alone, I become who I was before – a two piece jigsaw with one piece missing.

I plug in to the old answering machine to listen to friends I’ve lost. Their voices are like nettles on the heart. And in the bar you don’t like, I talk about you too much and I know I’m talking about you too much but I can’t shake you ‘cos I don’t want to shake you.

I wear the same shirt for days, don’t shave, sleep on the couch. I spend hours watching the dust in sunlight, thinking: will this dust last longer than both of us?
When you leave me alone, I retract.
I’m okay for a couple of hours and then, like a fog, your absence erases all the details.
And I can’t keep warm.

GA Johnson

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