the mess we leave behind
It started out like a shot in the dead of night, waking us from
the reverie we’d fallen into, five years’ worth of complacency
wrapped up in two school uniforms, ties unfastened and
abandoned on the floor like we’d never heard of hesitation.
Because we never had, and it was the rush of it all that
planted the seed right there in that bedroom, your scent
orbiting me like a moth to a flame, clinging to my every
waking moment. And we were planets then, sun and
moon like the posts from 2012 described that I never
believed in, not until paper walls plastered in a rental flat
became the only thing I thought I could trust, and the
feeling of your bedsheets tangled up in our limbs became
my only real memory. Collective, codependent. But it
was the mess we left behind that made a cavity, my
sweet tooth like caramel, melting. It was the remembrance
of nights waiting for the water to wash you away, the
fear of gravity like cling film, glued to me in the heat of
the summer. I think of the healing, of the inches I grew
stepping out of you. The mess we leave behind lingering,
an unmade bed, empty bookshelves. The ghost of you,
fading out of the pages.
lessons and teachings
I was twelve years old on a windowsill, plants as false as the
sparkly façade covering a deviance that threatened to exile me,
that girl, that one there. Floor to ceiling whispers, secrets switched
on grass dewy with the blooming of technicolour beginnings.
Kisses under tables, it started in a classroom, ended in a cold
kitchen, a car ride home thinking about forever and the things that
aligned to give us a moment, some black hole burning out on
borrowed time. It was emptiness and light then, learning how to
be the sister I never had for a family formed in secret. To hold
hands in a hotel bathroom at 2am, wipe tears in the blue of a
corridor lit by emergency, bury hatchets in a backstreet in Italy.
For the hiding, for the fear and the anger and the nights spent in
the dark, I never had many people, what if I lose them all now?
The little bits of heart they’ll find when they need to remember
what it’s like to make daisy chains in the dark under a desk after
hours, fold them up, a time capsule in a blazer pocket, a memory
of March at fifteen. I will linger, fragments of a broken psyche in
the back of a locker, paper cranes, mutilated translation, and
when it is cold and I’m not there I need you to grin and bear it like
I did before it all got easier. Before the flights and the food we
could barely eat, and the romantic trauma that floats like a ghost.
Shit, life is tough and people are joyless, but you will be a lantern
like I was. Watch the fireflies, strike a match. Lost is ticking away,
the moon pulls a fresh tide. And with it, light.
Everything is you in the way that you said and every other way
at once, like a back door left open for the possibility of something
nameless. Spinning in my red dress, in pastel shades of spring,
one hand where two should be, fingers laced in a cat’s cradle,
antique, porcelain, I see us by the water and it’s raining when I
kiss you and we laugh. You can tell, it’s written all over your
face, I know, painted and gold framed, I’d hang us in the Louvre
and people could learn how to feel without regret from our touches.
Yours, with rhythm and beauty, epical, I lock it up tied with a
ribbon, check the date, count in angel numbers. Think of you
when I lie blanketed by the deaf night, each streetlight dancing
like a firefly, like me, like us, delicate and with serenity. Sleep,
you hold me and it’s quiet and bright, blue and neon. A summer
somewhere, we are infinite, a bench by a darkened lake, I am
yours in the way that you said and every other way at once.
Katie Proctor is a poet who writes about love and mental health. Their second poetry collection A Desire for Disaster will be published later this year by Hedgehog Poetry. They love literature, history and classics, and plan to study English Literature at university. Follow them on Twitter @katiiewrites and on Instagram @katiiewrites.