THE SPACE IN BETWEEN by Mac Goodwin

before       there were fast things
                       bright    circling    things
                  distractions to     retreat     into

                  life chugged along

                      you    took    trains        with the one you love
                           watched the rapid     retreat     of thoughts through the window
                              swept up      in the tunnels   and wind
                      and you chugged    distracting    liquids with friends

               you worked
                   often   choked   by the speed of   approach
               but it was normal

                 you received therapy
                    a gift, wrapped in cardboard and      posted   second class
                 but when it arrived it was beautiful
                            bright white and     spacious
                                 revealing

                 you took deep, agonising breaths    full    of   it
                      holding them in


then            there was panic

       a   sudden   breathless rush
               coming in from  the   cold;    a ruthless, aching wind
           before  all   life    slowed      down

        trains    passed    through         empty stations
             pasta briefly   graced   empty shelves
          beds emptied      and refilled

       there were some fast goodbyes

          and then    you were home
            surrounded and  thawing  but somehow alone
        therapy came  crackling     and   broken   by   static     down the phone
               work arrived  in    spluttering    bursts;   and then it     flowed

           and there was no   time   to     think
                    no time     to breathe   or    seek         a safer   place   inside
                but you did not   mourn    these things   –   they had barely crossed your mind

now           there is some pause


             a        slowing down of sorts
                 as life begins   to    open     up
                        albeit        at a   changing speed

               the flow of work    splutters    almost to a    halt
                       a trickle
                 and you can   breathe   just for a moment

        but in the   freshness   of     this breath
                      there is a   sour note
                   a sense of    older problems    creeping in
                     now they have been awarded    space    to   swell    and    bloat
                              to regain old   hard-fought    ground


                     and still, there are   no    swooping    trains      to be   whisked away   by
                              no touch to be    taken over    and consumed by
                       not even the familiar    rush of cool air    to be    renewed    by


             you do not know    what to do    with these sprawling empty days
                       but this   painful part   of you does; it    rushes in    with anxious thought
                                  to fill the space in between
                         and   pull you   to the very edges of the room       squealing   and   taut


                 therapy salvages    some clarity again
                                in terrifying painful truths it says
                       you must   reclaim   the air it swallows every day
                          and   step into   the space  instead

                    you must   reframe    the time it takes
                                  not as some     sorry stolen thing
                               but as an opportunity to bring
                                       your fullest self to the fight
 
                               an opportunity
                                     to     stretch     yourself out    –    astonished,   and renewed
                                 and   extend   into    the light


Mac is a writer from Manchester, currently studying in Sheffield. He writes mostly poetry, and enjoys writing surreal, dream-like poetry focusing on his own experiences battling mental health issues. He also enjoys dystopian and Lovecraftian short fiction, and the overlap between this and his poetry. You can find him on Twitter @mac__goodwin, or on his website mac-goodwin.com

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