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It was something like
protracted grieving, the way
we clung long after the initial
thrill or chill, pick your ill, they’re
all the same, a sort of monkey
cling with none of the affection
of a capuchin except for
picking nits.

I sometimes thought
we’d leaped straight into
the worn slipper stage, where
you only appreciate the warmth
when the floors are cold and you
can’t find the damn things. But
when you feel yourself to be
the slippers and you know
where you are, the grumbling
sets you wondering, wears a
body further down at heel.

When I think
instead of good things,
there were many, though we
scarcely gave them voice, I’m
less inclined, that is to say, the
ballast that I gave to him and
he to me takes on a new

In storms we have
no time to yearn for calm,
but when the calm returns
too much an aftermath is worse
the doldrums settle in, we splash
around and flail, kicking up a
gaseous sort of wind that
fills no sails—dear God,
we pray, retreating to our
corners just to quell the
bickering, where are
those gales?

And now the storms
have come again, their
vicious walls of water spiked
with stone are battering
raw flesh and bone;
I spent the night with
friends and jerrycans, the
bailing was good exercise,
if nothing else.

Sailing different seas
with mourning all around
us, I cannot see his boat
and so I send a quiet flare:
my ballast holds, I hope
you are afloat, my
crazy capuchin.

© Elaine Stirling, 2012