It is cumbersome but we carry it.
Lose our weekends to it
lose sleep as we pivot and lift
on the winding staircase.
Why did they make it this shape
our skin dusting the legs.
We have learned to leave it in the bedroom
when we go for long walks
so we can hold hands.
It is frightening to become friends in the park.
To laugh without having to lower something to the ground.
Do you have any regrets?
A Thursday but it could have been any day
another lunch snuck into a pub corner
we plant our hands palm-down
on the sticky table
we inhale pinot noir
we open to a certain page
we think we have the same spine
but she tells a story she has been working on
of a fist that dislodged her from a staircase
bruising her perfect brown skin
as if on the wrong side of a window
I knew touching her hand was impossible
when she called me Ice Queen
Folded in my chest freezer
I walked with her back to work
keeping my lid down
eyes on the ground
it is not soup skin that holds it together
it is a million tiny breaths condensing
as if against glass
in his hand, effervescing and hiccupping
like crickets he tilts his flute of tropical night
with his head in my direction
these burning collapsing giants
again and again and again
I’m mopless, lacking door handles
grinning with teeth as naked
as the moon
shaking out their ringlets
wringing the muscles
in another full-body cackle
wafts the starlings into murmuration
are they goddesses?
snag on sunsets and starry nights
studded limbs on which to graze a lip
or smash a bucktooth
these women who sing loudly
out of tune
these sisters sinking canines into
ankles and elbows
these bleeding sobbing
spines holding each page together
lifting each heart towards the moon
these enamoured hysterical witches
breathe in dancing flames
and swallow the unholy burn
wayfaring by the light
that beams from above skin
well-trodden by crow’s feet
these destined empaths
running earth and lightning
through their fingers
in the circle of arms around a neck
in the needle of a heel through flesh
in the soft catching of bare feet under blankets
beauty in their veins.
Every kind of beauty.
The loneliest whale
did you hear about the loneliest whale?
Wandering the Pacific,
moaning and wailing for a mate?
His voice is a different pitch you see
the other whales don’t know what he is,
detour around him like a road accident.
He still calls though.
Even as we speak, he’s probably
out there whining and yelling.
Perhaps some fierce queen will take a risk
and she’ll be quite the catch, eh?
Surely she will be worth his long and
lonely waiting, they will hold fins,
they’ll swim in intricate patterns
painting each other’s faces
they will die spooned simultaneously
and he’ll be so glad of his dulcet tones
that he scared so many away
it will be the last thought before he goes,
smiling into her skin
Emily Ford is a writer in North East London. She believes in romantic anti-capitalism, the earth, a few dear beating hearts and, above all, poetry. Find her on Instagram: @words.for.when