As if by accident, I find my head 

washed up window-side of his bed.  

After all that fucking, look!  

the sky’s still pinned up.  

His nose is longer with his eyes shut. 

This whole time, I’ve been holding,  

squeezing, wringing, folding,  

bending, nodding, thank you, God, 

for giving me someone who makes me hold 

my breath. I will be so light 

upon his life he won’t realise  

he’s kept me.  

I’ll leave not a mark 

on his pillows, papers,  

knife, DVDs or wineglass.  

What blessing 

Only when he is sleeping 

can I breathe out. So deep 

my ribs come up like a ship.  


from My Darling from the Lions (Picador, 2020/ Tin House, 2021), © Rachel Long 2020, used by permission of the author and the publishers

Rachel Long is the founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for Womxn of Colour, a ‘fiercely community-minded’ collective formed in direct ...

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