What Naomi Said

Streetlight-lit, arching trees swing outside in the breeze.
I’m watching, thoughts on my shirts hanging to your knees;
of the tattooed owl in black and white perched on your shoulder,
the one you expected to hate when you’d grown older.
It’d always been the little things, the ‘Death Cab’ songs you’d sing,
you’d bathed with ‘Plans’ wearing blue our first spring,
then later, warmed my bones with it on cold winter mornings,
but it was always too soft for subtle summer evenings.

It was an autumn midnight now, grown jaded and belated
and the window glistens dark with rain as I face it,
in an ICU where you’ve forced me to be painfully patient
while my earphone hang loose, limp, playing a lament.
Hardened seats bearing a woeful weight;
late taste of the dinner we’d had just before eight.
By one, we’re on different sides of a hospital door,
opening and closing, raising eyes from the floor.

The steady click of a coffee machine in the corner,
frequented often in the long hours not getting any shorter,
but passing sluggish in a waiting room for optimistic souls.
Walking back with a drink I see the marks from my soles,
Converse you’d bought me detailed in checkerboard
dirtying the floors of a sobering hospital ward
too clean, and I feel like an insult to the dying,
an outside mark in another world in which you’re lying,

still, full of tubes ribboning around your body,
while my iPod shuffles to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
The earphones are still swinging when I sit;
they’re counting down your seconds, and I know it,
because I was always a pessimist, glass half empty
and hospitals, like they can’t help you, never helped me.
I can feel you, fading, hear the ambulance outside, wailing,
notice that my hands are shaking, as the hours keep changing.

The coffee in a plastic cup grows colder by the minute.
Like you, Naomi, ghostly pale, almost finished
You’d told me to stop being so sad all the time
and since, I’ve held that advice with me in an attempt to stay fine,
but now every time I think of it I think of you, spent,
and whatever sadness I sought to prevent
is intensified, because thinking about ‘What Naomi Said
only reminds me of dirtied white floors, downturned heads.

Of the fickle scent of hope in a weary waiting room,
of the approaching stench of bad news,
of the laboured pendulum swing of Mercury headphones,
of the missed call from your father haunting my phone.
I’d rather remember long shirts discarded on a bedroom floor
instead of the one I was wearing, damp, when I’d left alone
in the early morning,
in early mourning.


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