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I Had a Word with Your Clothes Today

I had a word with your clothes today

About how they just hang around

Collapsed, liked flayed skin, especially the shirts

On their sloping hangers, presenting to me what suggests you

In shape and size, not however in volume


It is the volubility of you I miss,

 the solid volume of the sound of your beating heart

 in the drum of your full chest

drawing me into slumber on those nights when

 I just couldn’t manage it alone


I had a word with your clothes today

About how your trousers are so neatly folded over themselves

So prim, so tidy, so unmoved by the absence of their owner

Whose knees, bum and waist can testify to an intimate knowledge of you

Yet seem indifferent to your absence,

 at least your shirts look respectfully sad


I had a word with your clothes today

I probed and prodded your jackets about your whereabouts

They seem authoritative enough, so I thought they should know

I searched for signs of you in the outside pockets, in the inside pockets

The hidden ones that only mens’ jackets carry the secret of

I thought I’d find it there for sure, ah-ha!

But no, nothing would they yield of your vanishing,

 no sign or note for me secreted there

Nothing to be found in their empty, immobile, impassive shells


I had a word with your clothes today

Even the ‘grumpy old man’s sweater’

The one I almost gave away when we were first married

Not yet understanding the comfort you found

in its floppy arms, cracked leather trim, droopy pockets

and scratchy homespun wool,

 when you were ill with flu or cold,

illnesses comfort could cure


We understand each other now, the sweater and I

it is exhausted and has no more comfort to give anyone

It just confronts me with its silent resignation

Not caring to where it will be consigned, but only when


I had a word with your clothes today

Appraised them lined-up in single file

The slumping shirts, the collapsed trousers, the self-important suits,

The ‘grumpy old man’s sweater’

None of which had anything of comfort to say to me

Useless to a man,

Their interminable silence to bear, too hard

Their inevitable absence, even harder    

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