Four in a bed.
thrust out, awkwardly.
Toes caught against the hook
of my thumb –
Back arching against my shoulder
huddled in the centre of us.
A nest of parents and siblings.
There are four of us here,
A knot of arms and knees.
Feet linking like hands do,
while one wriggles between us.
His hands thrust out,
touching both of us
the other, tiny still, squirms.
Head against my heartbeat,
two tiny feet resting on my belly –
so recently empty, still soft and fleshy.
Three sleepers, and one wakeful,
listening to three patterns of breaths.
One: Slow and heavy, exhaustion being exhaled away.
Two: light and snuffly. quick in out, in out, in out. Miniature lungs.
Three: the steady ‘uh huh’ punctuated
with little sighs, and the practice
half forms of words.
This bottle, the one I find myself reaching for, the one you left behind – almost empty, the only thing you forgot, in your hurry to leave. This is the bottle I reach for now. Hot water on skin, and your bottle in my hand, the last liquid remains of you, your place in this house, this room.
I rub the familiar scent into my skin, your scent – lavender and tea tree. I rub, lather, let your scent cling to me, feeling the sharp sting of the tea tree and the way the skin shivers at the coldness of the liquid, then wash it off. Wash you off, let your scent run off my body and down into the drain.
I am washing you away, the last of you, all except those last few traces of scent that linger intimately.
Zoë is a poet and Mum from Dukinfield. Her work has also appeared in Magma, Interpreter's House, Clear Poetry, The Lake and Curly Mind. Photo by Siobhan Neyland whose blog AREYOUOHKAY you can check out here!