The Postmortem Before the End

When you feel a fool for trying, know that everyone else thinks you’re a fool too

Image by Eroshka

You have to look at it from the outside,
Hover over your relationship,
Like a spirit gazing at an equally dead body,
And then you’ll finally realise.

It’s the postmortem before the end,
Seeing the light,
Before the train mows you down,
Those first stirrings of shame,
When you realise people are watching,
A fool — an absolute fool.

They wend their way past you,
And note he walks ten paces ahead,
You, a lost puppy, nipping at his heels.

When he does walk beside you,
They must think you’re his cousin,
From out of town,
A distant cousin he dislikes.
What else could explain,
The faint familiarity,
Paired with no affection?

You, you, you — but I’m really talking about me.

Strangers watch the happy couples,
The real couples holding hands,
I do too,
But I’m patient, endlessly understanding,
I make your excuses for you,
Loving me makes you anxious,
I wouldn’t want that.

I’m a coward,
A humiliated liar,
Trying to recoup my investment,
Desperate to prove them wrong,
I can bear almost anything,
Private, gnawing wounds,
But not the shame,
Forcing me to look from the outside,
Stripping me of my denial.

One day, it’s over,
I beg and cry wretchedly,
But there’s nothing to miss.
It was only a pantomime,
a one-woman show,
A farce.

It’s happening again.

I’m a buzzing fly,
Searching for crumbs,
Too quiet for him to hear me,
Too insignificant to be swatted away,
Treated less warmly than anyone else.

I flush with shame,
This is how others see me,
Pity me,
I shame them,
By proxy,
This is how it really is,
From the outside.

I feel stupid for trying,
Guilty for wanting to give up,
I’ll stop feeling anything at all,

I inch towards you,
You brand me insecure,
As the bridge sways,
And you hack at the rope,
Knife tight in your hand.

I watch it fray, I stay,
In my place,
Sad and confused,
Join me on the bridge I built,
Won’t you?

For me to hurt much less,
You’d have to hurt only slightly more,
But you’re comfortable where you are,
On solid land, king of your castle,
Your life full of treasures.

You only pretend to miss the trash.

Unlike you, I have capacity for pain,
Enough for two,
But mostly,
On the inside,
I’m lonely,
With you,
Without you.

I hold it together,
Not that you’d let me go.
You want me tethered to you,
Like a mangy dog,
Limping circles around a post.

My tears aren’t tiresome,
You’ll lend a hand,
Help staple my wounds,
And when my pain is no longer interesting,
I’m no longer interesting,
You’ll exile me,
A ruler weary of his jester,
A coward tired of feeling shame,
Unwarranted, superior to his subject.

You don’t like how lopsided our relationship is either.

You feel bad,
About making me feel bad,
But you’ll get used to it,
Your hands grow calloused,
From handling me,
You’ll find my pain annoying,

For now it’s flattering.

I’m hollowed out,
Even the marrow,
Discarded to make room,
For more of your rejection,
I am content to starve,
You’re intent on feeding me scraps,
As long as I don’t ask for them.

I’d ask for much less than you give, that’s the irony.

I use my heart like a battering ram,
Against your drawbridge,
You flush with pleasure,
At being wanted,
Peering from the guard tower,
Secure in my failure,
You love to watch me try.

You’re so vain,
You probably think this poem’s about you.

I pull, pull, pull,
Stilted stitches of conversation,
And all the loose threads,

I fool the people watching,
Just for a moment,
They get the wrong idea:
You care,
I’m not pathetic,
We’re friends, as anyone can see.

The see-saw teeters,
Balanced before it drops,
Me on my ass,
My shame private again,
I win,
I lose,
With you, it feels no different.

I wish I could be indifferent,
Whittle everything down,
Scale back,
Care as little as you do,
But I’d overshoot,
Just that little bit,
And then I’d feel nothing,
We’d be nothing.


Author’s note: Writing therapy on difficult relationships, past and present. When you think about how it looks from the outside, to observers, you won’t be able to keep up your delusions.

Glutting myself on all that life has to offer and writing about it. Art, language, science, humour, and whatever else takes my fancy…

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