I'm afraid I've had to cheat a bit today because I'm so bloody busy...this is not an entirely new poem. Well, it's actually not new at all. At least not to me. It SHOULD be new to all of you though, and that's what's important, to me at any rate...it also means I can go out and get my love on with Alex, who writes a super sassy blog over at Inferior Design.
Please try to enjoy this, despite my betrayal - I've chosen this poem especially to highlight it. I appreciate your pity.
My friend and I were friends for a long time. We grew up together in a shanty town just outside London. Not many people knew of its existence and the air of collusion that wove its way through the streets seemed to bind the residents irrevocably.
I’m flicking through the old photographs of us. Me, dressed as a bald man with a limp; she laid on a towel in the rain pretending it’s summer. It causes me a certain pain to remember what happened; pain just below the jugular, as though there’s a small man in there, opening tin cans and throwing the lids around with little regard for his surroundings.
For a long time my friend had acted strangely, pursing her lips when she saw me coming and speaking only in pound coins when I said hello. She started dating an old sea captain from the 1600s. When I tried to tell her it was an impossible relationship, she said, “When the witch watches the walkers in the woods, the woods won’t wake for the walkers.” When I told her I didn’t understand, she laughed and called me a philistine.
The day was June 16th 1972. I knocked on my friend’s door and asked if she’d like to come out for some Estonian street food. “I can’t,” she said. “I’ve fallen into a deep depression. The ocean of my despair will drown you.”
“I’m a good swimmer,” I said.
“Not good enough,” she muttered. Behind her, I could see a dinner party going on with an empty place, just big enough for her to fill. I took our friendship from around my neck and put it in a small cardboard box shaped like a mausoleum. “Bring this back to me when you feel like you want to talk.”
Sixteen years later I saw the box in a charity shop. I opened it and found it empty but for a few blades of grass, which acted as a perfect metaphor for the knives now lodged so firmly in my back. I called my friend on her old number.
“Hello?” she shouted over the Carnival of Betrayal going on in the background.
“It’s me,” I said.
“It was never you,” she replied before putting the phone down like a cancer-ridden Labrador.
I head out into the garden with a box marked old stuff from the past you’ve tried to forget and put it into the hole I dug with my hands last night. Six parts petrol, one part match and the smoke is waving its farewell into the evening.