Bex Hainsworth (she/her) is a bisexual poet and teacher based in Leicester, UK. She won the Collection HQ Prize as part of the East Riding Festival of Words and her work has appeared in Visual Verse, Neologism, Atrium, Acropolis Journal, and Brave Voices Magazine. Find her on Twitter @PoetBex.
In the last days, your pink toes curled under
themselves, twisted feet giving you
an old man’s amble and aching bones.
You fell asleep each afternoon in the cave
of my dressing gown pocket. We could see
that you were life-weary: it was expected,
I knew before I found you,
a sunny crescent of fur frozen in sleep,
your fingerprint-sized heart finally stilled.
I cradled your quiet body between my palms,
thumbs stroking your woolly stomach,
my breath making your long whiskers tremble.
I wondered at your soft death.
Your cage became a simple wake
whilst we prepared the chosen plant pot.
Out on a terrace full of grey wind,
trowel in hand, he dug the hole deep
and then returned to the kitchen to slice
pale green triangles of cucumber: a final feast.
I wrapped you in a tissue shroud spun from
your nest, and then we placed you in the ground.
The soil shivered with silver woodlice
and mossy caterpillars as we buried you.
Afterwards, we piled pebbles into a cairn,
dedicating this: the gift of your small bones.
I have tried to store you away,
like a pair of Italian leather loafers
bought for me by an ex-communicated aunt.
To remember you is to live dangerously,
the way old people refuse to wear seatbelts.
They sit dumb and happy, and do not hear
the airbags blooming like water turning white
at the heart of an ice cube.
Because my head is full of you,
I forget to lock doors and close cupboards.
I wander from room to room, looking
for my house keys, or perhaps it was a pen.
The kettle whistles on the stove.
I picture sweat sliding between the valley
of my shoulder blades and your mouth
forming a reservoir at the bottom of my back.
Sometimes, when I return from a run,
I lie panting on my bed, pretending
you have just made love to me.
Every night I dream you
back into my bed and each morning
I wake to discover I have slept
in the recovery position.
And in the end, I will leave
your bookmark at C.K. Williams,
convincing myself that it was enough.
Photograph by Naihan Nath.