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  • Writer's pictureErin Brown


I met you when I was green -

Like grass, like envy

Like luck, belief and mountains

In photos of places I'd never been.

It was new. All of it.

The world was new because I was new

And you were new

And I knew nothing of what it was to remember the shape of your face

In the dark.

It shouldn't have been enough, you know -

That January press of your mouth on mine - But it was.

For so long the memory of you

Has sat, quiet and superior:

A season on the shelf of my being.

You were a rare book borrowed;

Something I had to return,

Something meant for returning,

Something I thought might come back.

Only like Spring.

Or maybe forgotten lyrics.

Not like what you became:

Anxious spots on x-rays without explanation.

How many times had I

Traced a word, though

And the word

Was always your name:

No matter what it said,

No matter the sound it made.

I'd fallen, you see.

Fallen so in step with the beat of that moment and you.

I didn't know I'd become Alice -

Good only for the tumbling,

Into situations without sense and arms without intention.


You were a story I had no heart

To give back.

Not that long ago, though,

I took you down from me:

Took you off my ledge to look at you.

I was a palm;

My fingers ached on the neon screen,

Seeking a spine, or at least the echo of one.

Make no mistake - I found you,

But it was a new press.

A new edition.

A new distress.

Or maybe it's just exactly who you were all along.

You meet me like an antique brand, now.

No fire, Just cold and molded to the mark you left;

Something healed that still twinges

With a passing gust of you,

When the old fleeting season

Of your voice

Rushes through my bedroom window at 2:00am.

How bright and easy and fallen

You are on to the pavement In my head.

I'm still good for falling, but you,

As it turns out,

Are only good these days for gathering -

No longer for sweeping, capable as you are.

There are no more feet here

For you to sweep out from under

This body.

This body I cannot leave until it leaves me.

You exist now to be swept up,

Brief as a phone camera photo or

Night spent bowed Beneath a stranger on holiday.

I leave this room in the house of me, now,

The same way you left it. And I realise,

Turning my back on the stripped bed of us,

How the only things you taught me

Are that you talk in your sleep,

That you turn your face into soft hands when you're restless,

And that sometimes

Some pretty things

Can only belong in a pile in the end:

Things whose home is not a shelf, but a heap,

Grouped by virtue of their no longer being able to grow.

I scoop together the shadow of you;

I rake up the rake

To lay in the shade of something

That by nature will bloom

To replace him

Eventually -

"Not because I wanted to," I think

As I wander on the hardwood,

Brushing my teeth before turning out the light.

"Just because I can."

© Erin Brown, 2024


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