I watch you pare your apple into rind-thin crescents
and hold them up to see if light seeps through
and ray them out in scrupulous mandalas
and rearrange and lift and pare again.
I want to put my lips on yours, transfer
my apple, pulped and swallowable,
onto your tongue and take your illness back,
swap warm green flesh for bone-pale bitterness.
I want to breathe in life and watch you fly
far from the nest and build yourself again.
I am the well one, by comparison,
and I have strength and ribs and blood to spare.
You hate the weight of mouths and tongues and breath,
the tart green taste, mortality of kisses.
You hover in the ether, beyond reach
of flesh, resuscitation, earthly love.
I thought that it was safe here; didn’t I?
Maybe; before the day I found a rabbit
bobbing – wide-eyed and stiff,
fingered by sea anemones, their wet mouths
gaping, covetous for kisses –
cradled in a rockpool on the shore.
We built homes here,
the gardens rank with allium,
the shrubs contorted, reaching to the earth.
Gulls troubled us; their appetites,
their muck, their screeches
at the windows begging entry.
The water lifted stone and threw it back,
milling it fine; the air was grained with it.
The water left us glass and dirtless shells
and once a funeral wreath,
bleeding its purples.
Now cliffs return to dust and houses
slant. Walls rubble up and fences
travel seawards. The neighbours pack
their bags and start their engines and I
look out across the green tide’s conquest
and hear it suck, withdraw
and suck again.
Throwing out your arm in sleep, as if making for the far shore,
and I, my hair splayed like a mermaid’s, at your side,
my open eyes, the whiteness of our fingers, wound like weed.
Paddling your feet, describing languid circles, you make the covers
shiver, and I, though still, am drawn into your wake,
the rhythms of your breath, your long neck’s heat.
You flip to your back and float. I also turn, to mirror you, and feel
the energy of water bearing us,
the half-light of the house, its knolls and hollows.
Kitty Coles lives in Lightwater, Surrey, and has been writing since she was a child. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Mslexia, Iota, Obsessed With Pipework, Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House and Brittle Star. @kittyrcoles; www.kittyrcoles.com