Extract from a Lost Chat Log


If I could talk to you now

I would ask why, at thirteen,

you scored the word fuck

on your wrist with the head of a pin;

just sat at your mother’s desk

drawing blood like ink

from your indigo skin.

Was there some grief, an unshakeable panic,

that you needed to mark on your body?

I saw the start of an eternity then:

the pale anaemia giving way

to supple ripples of veins, the loved one lost

in the black tattoo, the dated trace.

Where it all ends, the west wind

shakes the leaves from the topaz trees.

Here, the mild array of feelings relent

in year after year of loss, the something of all somethings

that sheds and fades like a layer.

The vulnerable, fleshy being

that lives inside me, clicks

in the skipping heart, the tapping keys,

the miasma of all these memories;

it lives still, still living

through the scent of flowering lilies,

cold scorch of tonic and gin.

And I would ask myself:

when was it I saw you last;

at what second did you take

your perfected death?

Questions irrelevant, now

that you cannot exist. I think of you

as a face in the mirror, an eyeful of light

from a hankering camera. Ghostlike,

iridescent. I follow you

through the gauze of this golden iris,

the fine-blown shards on the windowsill

where it all deletes, scatters

then cements: in the place

where I make my descent.

[Maria Sledmere +photo credit]

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