Tucked away inside your palm,
the burn of your bruised, scat-black years,
as if that handful of life you slipped towards
could be hidden close enough to bring us back
un-lonely, unharmed, your face no longer camouflaged
by the punch of tequila or rum.
I watched you weave yourself down through the tangle.
Time fell in patches, so too marriage, so too loyalty.
There are so many claws hiding in an American night,
thumbs stinking of captured rot, nails the sweetest feast,
sharp enough to draw blood,
the colour of thirst forgetting its ache.
What kind of beautiful treasure was lurking,
coy, beneath the stings of guilt and shame?
Which of us could know that the man who hid his hands
was practising the width of a loss?
Trying to mute an unknown sea, we were part of the storm
you stomached, sloped between collateral and excess
and then we felt the scream you choked down.
We had nowhere else to go.
Our attic claims your bridal dress for food,
that perfect slant of light –
how we destroy it. As white turns
to darkness, an abandoned thing learns to keep to itself,
its heart moot, a shrine for feelings
a former owner couldn’t pronounce. We are this sinking house,
our scraps will last beyond the rest of us.
In an outgrown clothes pile, a stray pelagonium branch
flowers through the dust of your single-use kimono,
its green overhanging beak peering down through the cracks
like a God hunting in the dark for his sinners.
We fashioned this darkness, the well-worn chaffs
of past rebirths, and when this smoke inherits the Earth,
no one will know who spared it,
no one will know the ones who died apologizing
for the simple fact it was ever here.
Imran Boe Khan is a poet and essayist based in Dorset. His work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in the Rumpus, Indianapolis Review, Maudlin House, Menacing Hedge, Juked and Heavy Feather Review. He is a previous winner of the Thomas Hardy Award.