my whole body is heavy
carrying the weight of
not being her life’s love.

under my skin there is
a racing of the heart
which when distilled
turns out to taste
like adrenaline.

imagine it was like this
she was the person i wanted
and in a second she evaporated
our elusive future. on which
i should never have hung
so many hopes.

i had dreamed many things
must have only dreamed
she dreamed them too.

ahead in my vision
we stood connected
& weightless.

our crystallised future
a glass house of plants.
our children had no faces.
our island a rich kitchen.
she whirled around with
bottles of wine. sometimes
she smashed them. still
it was good.

as down on earth
our fleeting evenings
turned harder and harder.
her love thinner and thinner.
their time shorter and shorter.
i spun parallel dreams into
an extended eternity.
through the glass
sunlight came.
our days warmer
and warmer.
our skin merging.
melted magnets
birthing some
gay garden
of eden.

who hasn’t endured today
for the promise of tomorrow?

the future spun out indefinitely then
more gorgeous in its needing to be
salvation from my earthly prince.
she: arrogant. reckless.
handsome. protecting me
from all evil but her own.
i held out for a benevolent king.
who would arrive when the time
was right. but to dream silently
is to dream stupid.

for who can trust a dream
dreamt alone?

that last fleeting evening
she sat across from me.
a fallen angel speaking english
instead of tongues. like our love
something basic. like our touch
never heavenly.

imagine she said there was no spark
when i spent days, weeks and months
trying to strike a match. only to be met
with no oxygen. only splinters.
imagine she looked to me for answers
to vague and incoherent questions.
unable to name the problem
she would like solved.

i sat in front of her. watching my
dreams forgotten and foolish
as she scrambled for good words
and chose only the worst.
lips meeting to form
intangible sounds
of disconnection.

she spoke of love
not in love.

of princess diaries
not bell hooks.

could only ever say
i don’t like it.

and only ever answer
i don’t know why.

her response to
my false fairytale then
necessarily childlike.
it’s true i had
wanted a child.
would have done
most things to
have one
with her.
on earth i heard
only affirmation
ignored all hesitation
like Rumpelstiltskin
i spun gold with deceptive
expectation of payment
that never came.

i called her by her name
never expecting she would
one day guess mine.
it ended there.

we sat together apart
finally exposed in the dark.
both of us liars. her eyes said
she was done putting out
our many little fires.

she couldn’t say what
she knew she must. so
i unwillingly gave her
the unspeakable words.
amazed & devastated
i watched as she boldly
handed me the axe
with which to do
her deed.

i swung

deeply abandoned and relieved.
everything i had ever wanted
punctured by everything
i had tried not to see.
impossibly she asked
to stay the night.
the candle burning
at both ends now.
my wife a ghost
still it was
to say no.

also, i couldn’t bear
to watch her leave.

the havoc i might
once have wreaked
on lovers turned villains
was quietened by the baby
in her face. the one she had
very occasionally
let me cradle.

we slept then and
both awake
i traced our
happiest moments
onto her face
that whole painful night.
carelessness illuminated
by dim orange light.

i clung
to the outline
of the outfit i wore
in the park where we met
both instantly obsessed.

i sketched the pressure of the way
i kissed her by the lake. we had started
how we meant to go on.

there were so many bodies of water.
there were so many bottles of wine.

that birthday way back when
i still liked her stush friends.

those first orgasms
i stood with her beneath me
elevated by her hands
to some other dimension.

the span of light
breaking through
her childhood room
that first morning
i believed she was
my last ever love.
that the thing
was sealed
and done.
she told me it was.
she called me her wife.
all day. all night.

tale as old as time but
i swear

she said it
with her chest.

the dinners we cooked.
the way she looked at me.
those soapy showers
in various airbnbs.
cleaning each other's skin.
unplaiting each other’s hair.

the cabin with the champagne
that left me forever changed.
the secrets i told her
the ones she always kept.

that time we came in unison
and she said, we’re meant
to be together. the places
we wanted to go.
the places we went.
i traced them all till
her face grew cold.
the connection of skin
somehow now severed
the person i wanted
no longer the person
beneath my fingers.

i traced her lips then
willing her to kiss me
and eventually she did.
but even then
on that
the last night
of our once breathless adventure
into the always risky avenues
of a shared and promising life
it was only with hesitation.
only with something gone.

Poet’s Note

I wrote on the day the sadness hits a couple of weeks after a break up. When the pain was still stinging (as it does) and there was much left to process. It’s about our sometimes unfortunate tendency to imagine relationships into the narratives we want for our lives, without always respecting their truths, or limitations. It hurt to feel like I had been sold a dream. But I also had to accept that it was a dream of my own making. One I had held onto at the expense of my reality.