We have to talk, he said, but his lips printed
a line on the air of the sort that would follow
the last sentence in a children’s novel,
often not a straight line, more of a flourish
that she thinks of now as like a crooked smile
which could mean several things at once –
though instead of a line, sometimes the word Finis
would appear, always in italics,
looking somehow more important than The End.
Those books were generous with their flyleaves,
blank, kindly pages to ease the reader
back into a world where the magnificent hero
or heroine who’d made her heart thump
was a flat creature somebody had dreamed up
beneath a lamp in a smallish room.
Perhaps he too wanted to be generous,
giving her as much space as he could
to go wild with her invention,
be dramatic, do something to startle him
out of boredom with their relationship,
strike a spark, at least throw some crockery –
but all she could say was, I can’t do this, sorry,
her hands moving to close the book, her gaze
raking the shelves for an empty slot.
Portrait in an Empty Landscape
This summer, with no-one to take my photo,
I turn the lens on myself,
though I’m not sure I want to see
the way I look marooned in space.
There’s something about the state
of my eyes – their light’s bleeding.
I sit across from you in public places
instead of back in our kitchen –
no wonder my gaze
soaks you up,
saturating in the sight of you
before your image whites out.