there are other words for this, not love


I do not think of that night in the gatehouse that overlooked the Sound, salt air moist on my lips, and wine.

You wore a white sweater, the kind mariners wear while they tear hooks from the guts of fish and throw them overboard.

You’d set a fire in the fireplace and sat on the floor next to me with your arm around my shoulder, laughing.

I can still see your face, that smirk of a smile that made my heart swim; feel the spot in my chest where love and anxiety mixed often with you.

There was a white robe in your bathroom, a second toothbrush in a cup—the things a woman leaves behind when she is certain she will not be discarded.

They were not mine.

My things were in a pile on the floor next to your bed where you left me in the dark and alone — the sound of a door somewhere shutting, my entrails staining the sheets.

POEM ©2014, Jen Payne
IMAGE: Mess of fish, Paul Klee, 1940.

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