“I’m losing my looks” she said
“I’ve given him the best years of my life.
And the child asleep upstairs, I resent him.”
I tried to calculate a response.
The conversation never breathed an opening.
“I used to fantasise about leaving but the bills.
My God the bills. And the baby. I had a broken home you know,
I want more for him.”
I stretched to find some common ground,
Some shared ache.
She got old right in front of me,
Over coffee and cigarettes,
Over words that punched the air between
Us with soft blows that never met.
I wasn’t meant to understand.
“They put me in a hospital once. I felt so guilty I came home.
Can you imagine that? Too guilty to stay and get well.
I have responsibilities. The baby, he needs me.
It was selfish of me to go.”
I didn’t think it was selfish
But I stopped myself from saying so.
I’d never felt the weight of someone else’s need.
“He’s making me angry at the world. And I’m jealous.
Afraid of losing something I don’t even have anymore.
He hasn’t touched me in months.”
I felt uncomfortable, because I knew it was true.
More cigarettes. I can’t even meet her eyes now.
And there they are again, the soft blows.
I feel the fist of them in my gut.
I stand up to leave
“ I don’t think I know you anymore…”