New Best Friend
You’re making your way back –
but only from the bathroom.
Cautiously, as though shuffling
barefoot on stones.
How curious: the slow erosion
of self. “Lean on me,” I say,
feeling nobody there.
We return to the room
where your new best friend
is hiding herself in a spiral,
under your bed. The cat
has one green eye swollen
like a marble. You try to coax
her out, as if it were you
teaching her the truth
about shame. But the cat
is staying put: she knows
more than she lets on.
Now you’re gesturing
at the frosted-glass window – lit
by the sun, over which you’ve glued
butterflies. Scarlet puddles
of painted paper, flapping wings
and going nowhere. They’re so simple,
a child could have made them;
but this isn’t a children’s story.
These butterflies think they are
sheltering something. Don’t tell me,
even if you know what it is. The cat
is staring at me, escaped from her
hiding place. She’s trying to warn me:
someone else has appeared in the room,
drawing a brownish blood
from your arm. These unfamiliars,
trying to save your life – do they know you
like I know you? They know your
thin pulse – it floods the syringe
so slowly – a trickle, no more.
If you have any comments on this poem, Michael Loveday
would be pleased to hear from you.