Porkpie Hat – I Saw You . . .

You . . . were sitting on the edge of the bed we once shared, combing your hair in the mirror. You were staring at yourself, past yourself, past the reflection of me.

I . . . was moving backwards in the darkness of the landing, drifting backwards down the stairs, floating backwards into the night.

You . . . were waiting for me next morning, ready to change the look of our home. You had your shirt sleeves rolled up, first thing, coffee on the stove, trowel and hawl in hand, smiling at me with white-flecked hair, saying ?Well, mister, this wall doesn’t seem to be plastering itself.?

I . . . was too busy to help, too many things on the go, building bomb shelters and biospheres, fences to keep back the neighbours dogs, the changing tides. All night long I was filling notebooks with designs for unrealistic machines. I was gone for long periods of time, off working in the clouds, or in unlit tunnels deep underground.

You . . . fell asleep in the TV room, night after night, with your head on my shoulder while the radioactive monsters chewed through city after city. You would sometimes laugh in your sleep, and I would wonder what it meant.

I . . . was afraid to move in case I woke you, so I stayed up through the late-night news?the real-life horrors, the atrocities in Winnipeg and the Middle East, the interviews with the victims? families?forgetting how to sleep. In the morning I told you about all the threats that could tear us apart: the psychopaths, the viruses, the bombs, the shifting tectonic plates.

You . . . said that if we are strong nothing can tear us apart, but that it wouldn’t hurt to have an emergency plan.

I . . . said, ?Just tell me where to wait for you, and for how long. Just tell me where we should meet.?

You . . . said ?How about the middle. Would that work??

I . . . tried to find you when the disaster finally hit. But the phones stopped working, and the bridges all collapsed. I kept getting off the bus or the train at the wrong time, only to see your face again and again, always when it was in a window pulling away.

You . . . came to me in my restless dreams for so long, always holding out your hand to me, waiting in places I could never find you. You wrote out directions for me, and hid them inside the covers of old records. You drew maps for me in the steam of bathroom mirrors, in the dust beneath our bed.

I . . . remember the last time I saw you. It was at the beach. I was standing on the edge of an inland sea, trying to make out your face in the fog and hear your voice above the waves.

You . . . were sitting behind me on a blanket, packing up the picnic stuff, searching through your purse for the keys to your car.

We . . . looked into each other’s eyes, before you stood up and walked away.

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