Greeting The Crossfire – New Poem (Rough First Draft)
Greeting The Crossfire
The day you told me it was terminal,
the first snow was gathering in the sky.
I told you I loved you. That was all
I could manage, my brain wet paper heavy.
You sip your tea more slowly than before,
closing your eyes before swallowing.
This is a good cup. I know because
behind your scarf you’re crying.
In a small voice, you talk about when
you would get books from the library,
and start with the one that was least promising.
You say you wish you hadn’t done that.
I try and avoid looking at the library returns
shelf when I pass it in the hall. It’s packed
with Canada guides, 24 tips for better sex,
recipe books for a Christmas you won’t see.
You ask if this is God’s idea of bloodspot,
and if the tumours killing you are his hounds.
You say you feel frustration in your ribs.
You want to crack them open, pull them out.
I think you would if you had the strength.
I want to bury you at night so I can
pretend it’s not really happening.
But you want it first thing in the morning.
You’ve never really liked the dark.
We don’t go on the internet now.
You’ve deleted Facebook and all your
other social media accounts.
‘I don’t want to be there after I’m not’
you say, gathering jpegs of photos to go
on a harddrive you won’t plug in again.
I offer to go to Boots, print some off,
buy a new album. You agree.
‘I can take it with me,’ you say,
before your voice fades into an
anticlimactic whisper. I can just
hear that faint fizz of your pulse
I return, we spend hours leafing through
pages of photos we commented on the other week.
You say you don’t want to die.
Your words cut through the border
of my skin, sink into my bones.
All I can think about for weeks is how
darkness will deepen as soil wraps itself
around you, your one designer dress
and our bulging photo album.
When you become too weak to talk,
I hold your hands. You’re about to greet
the crossfire. There will be howling
when you’re gone.