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,
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.