After Philip Larkin
Side by side, our faces blurred, the couple that we were lay nightly. Days uncounted, days too sure to end.
Three nights I’ve dreamed that you came back. Three times my heart would start to settle in, relieved. And then I’d wake up to the truth.
The beds where we lay together, queens and doubles and occasional kings, the basement bedroom in your parents’ house
where we fought sotto voce, barely slept— another family trip, another argument— the tension snapped then eased up by the time
we passed the exit for Anne Arundel County. No side-by-side monument will do for us. You can’t be set in stone—you’re burned to ash.
I make my bed with our old flannel sheets, aubergine, the color of dried blood. They’ve worn softer than ever,
so many skins suspended in their folds. I miss yours, blazing, irreplaceable. The dreams don’t bring your scent, your back,
your gentle but persistent snore. The nights my coughing sent you to the couch or you crept in wee-houring after work [End Page 44]
are just as lost as the foldings-up and sighings no effigy of coupledom can hold. What will survive of us, my love? [End Page 45]
AMY LEMMON is the author of two poetry collections: Fine Motor (Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Press, 2008) and Saint Nobody (Red Hen Press, 2009) and coauthor, with Denise Duhamel, of the chapbooks ABBA: The Poems (Coconut Books, 2010) and Enjoy Hot or Iced: Poems in Conversation and a Conversation (Slapering Hol Press, 2011). Her poems and essays have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Rolling Stone, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, Verse, Court Green, The Journal, Marginalia, and many other magazines and anthologies. Amy is Professor of English at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and Poetry Editor of the online literary magazine Ducts.org.