Pausing on SEND
New Year's Eve. Looking for beer, you find me
by the back door, downing tears. We slip like fallen angels
up the path between the throbbing house and crusty garage.
I'm sober and it must be freezing but I hardly care.
Not quite strangers but far from close, you take my arm
like someone out of Jane Austen leading in to dinner
up the narrow cul-de-sac. Your words calm,
I snuffle, gasping, through snagged breath.
Till now we've almost never not talked shop.
You stop to comfort me and as we move on, gently
leave your arm there. Past front gardens, weeping willows,
semis past their bedtime, other couples seeing us as one,
up past the park across from rows of pretty terraces
where proper people live, people who know,
who've found out somehow, how. Your arm still there
past sheltered housing, wheelie bins in pairs,
we're steps away now from the main road, taxis,
tough oblivion. These city arteries all strange to me,
unreal in sodium, your arm still there, I feel how near I am
to being lost. I do not even know what year it is.
I hear you're happy now, as you deserve to be, married
with kids, career. This is to thank you, twenty, twenty-one
years on. To tell you that I feel your arm still there
light as a wing, as words, gathering.