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.
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