Everyone Who Left Us by Steven Cramer

Would you be alright, he asked me, in a dream. Would you be able to hold it together, he said, a question in his eyes. I lifted my shoulders, maybe shrugging, maybe tucking my head and my neck in my sweater for warmth, as I feel the cold start to seep into my bones. It doesn’t matter now, does it, is the only thing I could reply. It hardly ever matters now.

Everyone Who Left Us
Steven Cramer

Everyone who left us we find everywhere.
It’s easier now to look them in the eyes —
At gravesites, in bed, when the phone rings.
Of course, we wonder if they think of us.

It’s easier, now, to look them in the eyes,
Imagine touching a hand, listening to them talk.
Of course, we wonder if they think of us
When nights, like tonight, turn salty, warm.

Imagine touching a hand, listening to them talk —
Hard to believe they’re capable of such coldness.
When nights, like tonight, turn salty, warm,
We think of calling them, leaving messages.

Hard to believe they’re capable of such coldness —
No color, no pulse, not even a nerve reaction.
We think of calling them, leaving messages
Vivid with news we’re sure they’d want to know.

No color, no pulse, not even a nerve reaction:
We close our eyes in order not to see them.
Vivid with news, we’re sure they’d want to know
We don’t blame them, really. They weren’t cruel.

We close our eyes in order not to see them
Reading, making love, or falling asleep.
We don’t blame them. Really, they weren’t cruel,
Though it hurts every time we think of them:

Reading, making love, or falling asleep,
Enjoying the usual pleasures and boredoms.
Though it hurts every time we think of them,
Like a taste we can’t swallow, their names stay.

Enjoying the usual pleasures and boredoms,
Then, they leave us the look of their faces
Like a taste we can’t swallow. Their names stay,
Diminishing our own, getting in the way

At gravesites, in bed, when the phone rings.
Everyone who left us we find everywhere,
Then they leave us, the look of their faces
Diminishing, our own getting in the way.

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