The Patron Saint of Bad Luck


i keep pretending to be taller
back straight against the world
as though i don’t still slide up worktops
and tiptoe in bookshops
reaching like a child in too big shoes.

i keep pretending to be older
like the lines beside my eyes make me wiser
blue turned grey by the milk that i drink
it builds up inside you and turns you hazy
i’m supposed to know, aren’t i?
the names of flowers when they call on me.

i keep pretending to be braver
stubborn mouth and heart beat chest
kiss you with a smile that doesn’t meet your eyes
step back and it’s like i’ve walked over my own grave
i’m a ghost, seethrough sharp and bones echo deep
i think i died before i met you.

i keep pretending to be loved
isn’t that sad?
i think if i could hear you singing in the shower
the soft snuffle of your breathing against pillowcases
i think, oh, wouldn’t that be lovely
to be a part of a two-parted thing, an us, love from you and me.

i keep pretending i know the words,
an actor forced on stage last minute still half-dressed in yesterday’s clothes
voice wavers and flickers out like a candle
as you breathe across the room
there’s a delay, blossom breaks and i crumble
teach me to weave so that i may warm my heart
i thought if i learned how to dance i could bend for you
i’ll land with bare feet –
the patron saint of bad luck
i have a ticket – a train ticket home.

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