I remember the smell after we lost Frankie,
like someone had ironed the walls
pressing a crease into the oak finish.
You sat with your napkin and a picture of August,
adding trees to our garden
with the power of sunburn.
You didn’t mind the stares,
you were used to them,
but as the room filled with swagger
each finger anchored you, restless
to the nervous kitchen table.
Long horns that pushed back the sea
and lines of traffic flashing white
made up the distance on our way home.
We could whisper over the purr
and announce the change in our heartbeats
with flightless birds
stone-washed and hurried.
like the warm brown glove peeking over silk fences
came and went with the scenery.
I’m with you in Paris as we stand by the beaches
their faces so pale in the black shade
fences barbed and contorted with age, desperate for the touch to wilt them.
I’m with you when they say it’s coming now
they turn away, naked, as my hand holds yours
I hear you cry, but you say it was the wind between velvet curtains.
I’m with you and the midnight, as we descend into absurdity
howling at the moon before my shaking eyes
you claw at my chest and stumble from your perch
I grip you and the hand burns,
burns like the purple flower still twisted around your finger
solid and feminine, memorized in routine.
I’m with you on the streets of Crawley
forgotten in your madness but tender to the eyes
you paint your name with the embers you never caused
and say your final words
the final time