Derelict by Simon Cockle

Three days on the Dry Ward
and how you survived it
is no mystery;
in your handbag,
a whiskey bottle,
hidden under make-up
and used-up tissues.

This is the place in the hospital
where separation
from the thing you love
is the best cure of all.

Visiting time.
Paint flakes from the walls,
and the sunlight barely
crosses the finishing line
of the always-blinded windows.

You hold onto my hand,
still in the gown you wore
on that night when the carriage
with the flashing blue lights
arrived to carry you away.
It reminded me of the taxi
you fell face first out of
when the drink took you
and your two front teeth.

We observe, together,
the flotsam of addicts:
walking, sitting, all caught
in the terrible paradox
of want and need. Our smiles
say we are different; no, we are
all the same in the end.

I tell you the house is still standing
but I don’t tell you our home is crumbling;
it is overgrown with the sickness
of deception.  I should leave
you here to disintegrate
but how could I carry you
home in bits?

Time’s almost up.
You kiss my cheek,
say you’ll be out soon;
your eyes tell me
you’ve already left.

Simon Cockle is a poet and writer from Hertfordshire. He writes as part of Poetry ID, a Stanza of the Poetry Society. His poems have been published in iOTA, the London Progressive Journal and Pantheon Magazine, amongst others. He was invited to read at this year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival as part of the Poetica Botanica event. He teaches English in a local comprehensive school, and has a wife and daughter who nod reassuringly when he reads them his poems.

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