The dew from our coffee cups
Soaks into the oak, a temporary tattoo –
We were here, it says, as the remnants dry
And you lift it to your quivering lips.
I nudge mine, just slightly, with my thumb,
The way you used to tap me, gently,
To bring me out of a restless sleep.
It was always a relief, to have you there –
Now you just leave me be, let me wake up, moist with a cool sweat,
With those nightmares staining the fringes of my mind as I reach out into the empty space –
You haven’t touched me in months.
You eye it, the steaming mug,
A smoke signal, communicating,
More than we’ve done in a while –
I don’t know what the white wisps are trying to say, as they rise, weakly –
But it doesn’t seem like enough.
I pick it up, and notice a pattern in front of us –
A light Venn Diagram, etched almost artfully,
The ghost of our drinks, our last-ditch meeting –
On one side, you, and your soft hand, your fingers almost skirting the outside line,
But still hanging on. Just by a hair, by a nail.
And on the other, me, not even a part of it –
I steady myself
And then let a contender enter the ring
My slight hand, shaking slightly, just edging into the middle
The ring gleaming in the light –
You keep watching me.
I don’t know what you’re thinking,
Maybe of that piece of advice we got given on our wedding day –
I don’t think we were really listening…
Your finger twitches, almost beckons me,
But I was. I laughed it off, at the time.
How would that work?
My bliss was a firework –
Bright and joyous, but not everlasting.
The smoke always lingers, finds you eventually.
We just need to cough it out,
Let it leave our tired lungs…
But now –
Now you need to –
And you do.
In a quick swift movement,
Your hand reaches out, slots into mine,
Like it’s meant to –
Out rings shine together, the sky lighting up
With stars instead.
But in that quick swift movement,
You were always clumsy –
Knocks into our cups, which we’d hurriedly placed down,
Our hands too busy with other things,
And they fall, each in turn, like dominoes,
Like chips –
They paint the faded table a glistening brown,
Rewriting our game with lukewarm enthusiasm.
Somehow it avoids our laps,
And while we let go,
To clean up –
You beam at me,
Match my warmth.
The gleam on our hands reflecting in our faces.
I know we’ll be okay,
That knowledge tickles me as it lights up
The edge of my mind,
As we parrot hurried apologies to the waitress, and wipe each other’s hands.
After all, we have a blank page, now,
We can always play again –
Find each other as easy as breathing, as falling pleasantly asleep,
Now we are here.
Chloe Smith is a disabled writer and poet from the UK. She is a Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2015, and her poetry has been published in Rose Quartz Journal and Cauldron Anthology, with more forthcoming in TERSE. Journal. Her website: https://chloesmithwrites.wordpress.com/. Her Twitter: @ch1oewrites