For Someone, Somewhere, In Relation

You hold your breath,
stagnant, absent
in the station,
trains grumbling about leaving
and about waiting,
people passing, chattering
about nothing
they are actually thinking about;
sex, cheap wine, finances,
time, romances and of course,
the weather.

The flurry of snow
at the entrance
has nowhere to go
but down.
You observe the drama
of the town just
hours away from dormancy;
last minute pints
in the station bar,
snaffling burgers
in the corner of a McDonald’s,
while your fingers tousle and curl,
and fist and unfurl
and feast
on the insides
of your pockets.

You have no idea what to do.
No one is stopping to help you.

For one morbid moment,
one snap loss of reason,
you wonder what they would all do
if you dropped dead on the ground.
More fallen to the cold
on a winter’s night.
They would walk over you,
like a grave.

You spot a mirror
at the side of the waiting room
and you watch me.

Look, it’s this easy:
you can go forward,
or you can go back.
I’m telling you how it is.

You think of your mother’s
sweet advice, her wisdom,
her hypocrisy.
You think of home,
a priceless Heaven
in the darkness of town.
You can smell him, too,
and his warmth,
the moisture in his skin
as he buries his chin
in your throat.
Your clothes wear thin
in the December night.
Your fingers feel like cold fire.

A sign tells you to
just do it!
You laugh
as someone comes past
and scowls
as though they didn’t
quite get the joke.
Nothing weirder than folk.

you go out to the night
and ask a stranger
for a smoke.

You don’t even smoke.

Suddenly, you are fifteen.
You want to dye your hair blue,
paint your nails black,
pierce your nose, lip,
overdose, trip,
hit the sack
and not get up for a week.
You want to drink
so much that you can’t think.

You exhale toxic pleasure
and wander back inside.
They are turning off lights
down at the park and ride.
The sound of a fight
sounds strangely familiar
but their drunken slurs
echo inaudible pain.

You stand on the platform
between two trains,
puffing fumes and
oil from its brains.
In your throat
you mime the sounds
of a goodbye speech,
the silent, strained
words false even in
unspoken terms,
the ever-after of remorse,
the frailty of indecision.

The sweetmeat of adolescence
is a long-lost treasure,
a rare and doubtful pleasure.

Shaunna Harper's picture

Shaunna Harper lives and works in the UK, and is an avid writer of both prose and poetry. She has had poetry, short stories and a novel, Homelands, published.

Last updated February 11, 2014