That coat of gentle, ginger suede,
Real warm, perhaps the sleeves too long,
No inside pockets, can’t belong
To this me, since such fabric’s frayed.
The leather’s bright as bought, except
A collar-line; the buttons tied,
All rethreaded, worn with pride;
I’ve thrown out others – this I’ve kept.
For weeks I’ve followed round my ghost
Counting when I wore that first,
When she gave that, bit lip, cursed,
To find her hand was still on most.
But this I purchased long ago
When I was first at leisure, rich,
And chose to rise to pleasure’s pitch
And wear the mirror’s happy glow.
I bought it yet before I knew
The name that now distends my fears.
I’m tied to something through the years
That has no will to say or do
Yet speaks, forgiving, soft and smooth,
The skin like skin I miss to touch.
Ask, ‘Do I miss her?’ ‘No, not much,
Except when breath my lungs would soothe.’
On every surface, every door,
Fingerprints and darkling hairs.
I find her when I walk upstairs,
She rests in blankets even more.
The pencil pot, the chopping board,
The tent, the grout for fixing tiles,
The dreams of treading sunny aisles,
And every single guitar chord.
I haven’t yet resolved this rage –
Am I to amputate my past
And lose the years I clung to, fast,
And blanken all my diary’s page?
Don’t give advice – don’t share your grief –
I know already that time heals,
That when a nerve is cut it feels
But later leaves its torture brief.
Can you imagine I want that?
A heart which soon will cease to care?
A place to hide? Oh, how unfair
To know distraction or combat.
So either suffer every jab
And let no-body lift a share
Or betray, regret, then forswear
The once-bright future, paint it drab.
That jacket though is still as fresh,
And I still like it as I did,
And while I hated, cried and hid,
I petrified. But now send flesh.