by Cassidy McFadzean
Search through old pictures.
Not the travel album archiving
when you fought on the Old Appian Way,
in line at the Louvre, or tired
and hungry at Robert Frost’s grave.
Not those posed portraits on your wedding day,
taken by the friend you no longer speak to,
a few weeks before crossing the border.
Not the recent selfies, his body distant,
gaze piercing through.
Find those grainy pics on obsolete cell phones,
hair dyed darker, face free of creases.
Look for a smile not yet strained.
Read the old letters and cards,
the inscriptions he wrote to you
in the books you asked for, notes
slipped in the boxes of jewelry
not to your taste and never worn.
Unwavering in their confidence
that your love would be lasting,
they can do nothing but unsettle now.
Set them aside. Look for the letters in your hand,
the words that even as you wrote them
called for you to question their truth:
that when change came, you would change
together, not set out on that road alone.
Come over when he’s at work
to get a few things at a time: a book,
your favourite tea, luggage.
Take only enough not to disrupt
what is his now. Carefully, ignoring
the feeling of moving like a thief,
search through his dresser
for the scent of him when you first met:
that feeling of belonging in his arms.
It must be back there somewhere
in that old sweater he always wore,
with the sailboat insignia.
Root through the drawers again,
the places you’ve already looked.
Try the bureau, the laundry hamper,
the bed you used to share. Give up
only when you realize the fabric
is stale, his comfort nowhere.
Sleep in the forest. Wake
in a tent of light, the coolness
of the night air collecting
on the canvas above you.
Smell the pine trees. Hear
the rustling branches. Feel peace
you haven’t felt in months.
Breathe in and out. Release.
He let you sleep in—he is
somewhere outside, reading
the newspaper, drinking
coffee, writing a poem.
— from Juniper Volume 1, Issue 3