As Though

We’re sitting opposite each other on the train.

You’re facing home, so as we rush away from it

it’s as though you’re being pushed backwards by some incredible force:

a tornado wind or a sorcerer’s curse.

And even though we’re only ever a table width apart,

I can almost feel the distance between us widening.

 

It’s as though-

No.

I don’t want to remember this in as thoughs.

 

We’re sitting opposite each other on the train

and you’ve got your hands in your lap

and you’re listening to music with one headphone out

and you’re slouching so under the table your long legs rest between mine

and I can feel your foot tapping out of time

with the chug of the carriages

and your eyes are distant like-

No.

Your eyes are distant-

No.

Your eyes are blue and grey.

(With a faint rim where your contacts end.)

 

We’re sitting opposite each other on the train

and your hair is standing on end from the static of the seat.

Your jumper is woolly green and there’s a little hole at the sleeve

and you’re wearing the jeans I helped you choose

from the charity shop where I volunteer

three days a week.

 

You were pleased to hear I was doing that.

Made you know I was on the right track –

you did the same two years back.

and now look where you’re going.

 

See I’m always a few steps behind

but it’s nice because I’ve got someone to follow.

It’s like…

Nevermind.

 

We’re sitting opposite each other on the train

and you’ve opened the maths textbook you need to read

for your first term

and I’m counting how many stations we’re passing

and I’m trying to learn the expanse of land beyond the glass

so it can feel smaller.

 

You’re frowning in concentration.

I used to call your eyebrows caterpillars.

I remember you doing puzzles

while I drew pictures of them wriggling on your face.

I remember-

No.

 

It’s so tempting to stitch the separation with similes

and mask the misery in metaphors and old memories

but in this moment I want to feel everything

not fictionalise with likes and as thoughs.

You haven’t heard of Stein but I’m sure you’d agree

a rose is a rose is a rose

and this is a goodbye.

 

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