from Tide, Winter 2021
You were up and gone. Insufferable
You with your cereal and coffee up with the birds
Well not exactly but something like that.
Six thirty gone the bed is cold now and
You are working, typing away the chiming
Of freshly unpackaged email echoing the clink
Of unwashed dishes you’ve gifted to me.
You only arrive as I’m preparing for work,
Dishevelled, disoriented, lost as per usual,
Shuffling in, with an aura of grievance,
This time about the two plates in the sink,
‘Not your responsibility’ – it seems nothing is,
Yet you try and accuse me of being self-serving.
You sit in silence, surrounded by books, well,
Haloed by neat rows of virtual background. You
Glare at me as I try to find space in your order,
Though the space given is too tight. Claustrophobic.
I want to leave, I think, but your neatly rowed pens
May as well be a cage, your laptop wires pin me
To my seat and I stay to watch you work, ignoring...
Your incessant shuffling and sighing distracts me,
Increasingly gnawing away at my patience,
Just like your possessions, recklessly strewn about,
Like parasites feeding on my systematic order,
Which relentlessly multiply, invading my space,
And If left unchecked, you’ll be set to conquer.
You finish. Blank screen, blank silence, blank face
As you stumble to the kitchen, eat dinner
(Left on the stove, guess by whom?) and you
Fall into your seat clutching your book with
All its numbingly numbered pages. You focus then,
One chapter upon another, and I try to imitate you
But the paper simply rustles and does not speak.
As I finally attempt to achieve some respite,
Away from exertion, your clutter and whines,
Of course you succeed in consuming that too,
With the agonising laugh track from your soap
Overpowering all coherent thought as I try to
Comprehend the words on the page I glare at.
You must have had a good day, I think, as I lie
In silence, because you are not making any sound and
Neither am I because we’re both tired but then why
Am I so aware of your presence as though you too lie
Still awake? You are there, and I am here, and the night
Has come and is washing over us both along with the sleep
We crave as the stars emerge, hesitant behind the curtains.
You are finally tactful as you emerge through the darkness,
I try to feign sleep but your gaze whispers wordlessly,
And with the shared knowledge that the other is conscious,
We allow the moonlight, unfailingly behind the clouds,
Despite the weather, season, year, country, to wash away
All the scattered remnants left of the day.
By Tasneem and Penelope