She sits,
not poised at the edge of dramatic abyss,
but snuggled deep in that old couch,
her lover’s arms,
wrap around her too, in memory at least –
too many layers of dust have settled since,
and those phantom limbs
now sway unsullied by muscle cramps,
no pins-and-needles prompting new positions,
– just a glossed-over distillation of those perfect moments
that never really happened.

The couch is real, though,
its depths concealing spores of mold and more memories,
stains of several lifetimes, their passage through the flat,
loves lived, lost and longed-for,
and still the couch remains –

Or would, if not for her:
the couch, the room, the building gone.

Not to ash, as she expected,
but to a skeleton of vague proportions
Ribs and springs and incongruous tufts of stuffing
Coated in soot, no longer a couch, but still more than nothing.

Still more than her lover:
a figment only, created and destroyed
a thousand times in desperate daytime dreamings,
by the crumpled form who sits, if “sits” is fair,
still smothered by the couch, or couch remains,
still now, in every way.


This piece was written for Nika Harper’s Wordplay #2. The challenge was free-verse, with the prompts “memories” and “the reason it isn’t there.”