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The Windows


ISSUE:  Summer 2009

The windows are turning pale
in a room where I sleep beside a man
who does not believe I love him
anymore, the same pale light
that lifted me out of sleep
in an Edinburgh room—stuffed
armadillo on the bureau, heel
hooked around my shin, your chin
cradled in the crook of my arm—
hunger’s monotonous engine
humming its tune in pre-dawn light
where a Victorian duvet fell
five time-zones away where you
still are, your students mired
in exams when I flew back home
in an exit row, an aisle seat,
the windows too bright against
sleep’s deficit that had accrued
on holiday while we were crossing
borders—switching trains
at Newcastle, the tracks ahead
closed off, cutting cross-country
to Carlisle over verdant landscapes
stippled with sheep, my eyes
darting back and forth from you
back out to a world beyond the glass
I’d miss each time my focus
returned to you—a detoured train
getting us where we thought we
needed to be going … what remains
is a piece of woven Peruvian string
tied against my wrist, a bracelet
that loosens now a little more
each day I walk down to the pier
to a skyline you have never seen,
thinking of that other piece of string
tucked under your jacket sleeve
as you chalk the board, light
pouring in through the windows
when I dashed into Ellis Brigham
two minutes before they closed,
lying to the security guard
about a jacket that was “being
held” for me, my wallet so fat
with cash, would he please
just let me in? and just because
you weren’t right there, was that
any less real than a squadron
of zippers stitched into waterproof
seals running zigzag across a bomber
jacket you still wear? It’s 9:42
and you’re sitting exams, me naked
with a man who’s shared my bed
for fifteen years, who doesn’t know
whom I love, and I’m wide awake
fingering a worn piece of string,
dreaming about a Newcastle pint
you and I once swigged as we walked
on that road to Leith, the windows
turning pink at sundown, the two of us
hardly knowing where we were
headed, only that we were going—

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