Not so bad

Man and Woman in Cafe, by Picasso

Bad enough that we broke, our
Frustrations had multiplied like bacteria.
Our dreams weren’t realized, and had grown spiky in parallel, like the deepening lines on our faces,
And compromise squeezed us like a vice, harder than we chose to hold each other.

Years later, I look for recollection
Of that other flow, above the overpowering undertow,
Tracing the course of a blue stream that we had willingly dived into together,
thinking it would carry us in the same direction, forever.

I had a vague aspiration, to take stock,
Of the residual evidence of all that time spent in your presence.
There’s a briefcase I still use for work; a present from you, when you were proud of me.
There’s a litre-sized drinking glass, which you’d fill to defend me from dehydration.
There’s a shirt you said I was too fat to wear, speaking so loudly that every other shopper was alerted to the dying embarrassment of our former love; it was a casual cruelty I still can’t forgive.

There’s nothing here that you made, except memories, and most have faded so badly that they’ve permanently retired from the theatre of my mind.
A few persist.
My hand down your jeans, when supposedly birdwatching.
Footsie under the table.
A takeaway curry in a microwave oven in a car dealership in Kent.
Our lying in somebody else’s bed in the sunny morning, talking in High Bo-ish.
Your laugh, when I played the Pixies, saying I had to wash the pollution of your musical taste from my ears.
How your sense of humour grew flavourful and ever more complex, like a fine wine.
Sneaking into a second film at the Sunday afternoon cinema, not knowing what to expect, and so discovering Amores Perros, whilst I forget which film we saw first.
Looking for flamingos on your birthday, and your not minding that we never found them.

It wasn’t so bad, though we both found that hard to say.

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