Shelved

This is the part I do not understand:

how the skin of my hands have come to know

the feel of your hair, your taut muscles,

the quality of fabric of the clothes that you wear,

and the rough traction of sliding my hand

over your unshaven cheek

and that, in one instant, I am to not

feel that ever again.

 

I’m left with the memories of it —

holding on to whatever lingers there,

phantom sensations held together

by what my mind can grasp because my hand

is no longer allowed to hold.

 

And this is just in the realm of touch.

We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface

of sight or sound or smell or taste.

 

And what about what is felt inside?

The warmth and the rush in the bloodstream

as if every blood vessel was ready to burst

into a screaming frenzy every time

I catch you smiling at some funny thing I said.

 

All of this are now just like petals in a book

that I’m afraid to return to the bookshelf

because I may not find it again, lost amongst

so many other books on a shelf so tall

I need a ladder to climb to the top reaches of it.

 

I clutch the book as tightly to my chest as I can.

I don’t need my hands anyway for anything else.

Its pages burning with the longing of something

I am no longer permitted, no longer allowed to do.

 

I run my hands over the book’s cover and engravings

of your initials at the centre of it and it is a poor

substitute of your skin and your hair and your clothes.

And this book is all I have left of you and holding

on to it for dear life is not letting go and isn’t that

your last request of me?

 

But your body is no longer mine but this book

is solely my possession and one that I will not

give up so easily, so quickly, or permanently.

On the shelf, it stays on eye-level, so I can pick it up

every now and then and remember.

 

The pages yellow,

the petals dry up,

dust gathers,

and very soon

I’ll have no reason

to leaf through these pages.

 

But that’s somewhere down the line,

in the future,

and this is now.

 

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