About Gravity by Deborah Swain

(woodblock by Lucienne Dorrance)





These red sheets

have swallowed me

in folds the colour of peonies.

They make this page seem

less white, like

the creamy top of the milk.


Your purple scarf, left

uneasy, gaudy on the bed,

still warm and

steeped in your skin-

scent sweetness,

pulls me away from

these blackly biro-ed words

on fine and pearly-grey lines,

(such delicately imposed discipline)

to press my face into

its surprising tickles,

breathe you in and

make whole your absence.






If I’d known

you weren’t coming back

I’d have waited

before washing

our last sheets and

kept them instead

in folds of tissue paper,

the invisible body print

essence of you preserved

in myriad molecules

of skin and hair and sweat.

X-rays and carbon dating

would prove that you’d existed.


But now, only I can

trace the outline

of where you lay.

And then, only

because I remember.