Cuckoo

By Emma Buckley

I’m sitting next to you and you’re barely there, 
burning like a formless heatwave, 
air thick with all our so-far unexchanged spit,
and the punctuation of my frequent exits: 

Kick-drum hyphenation of the bathroom door. 
The tick-tick-tick like an asterisk. Two pool cues,
ellipsis, as the floorboards start sticking to my shoes
like pollen on the legs of a honeybee. 

Your hands keep writing this story for me. 
A poem half-drafted with all your grand gestures,
and I don’t think you realise that you talk like that, 
like I might find my poetry on the backs of your hands. 

I always said I wanted to worship something, 
even if it’s just the way your eyes look when you laugh. 
Altar of cheap cocktails in a pub with an arcade inside,
like a bad punchline, like my predicted crise cardiaque. 

I’ll be clear about it: I didn’t think I wanted this. 
I’m a nervous wreck. I thought love was a party trick. 
Let’s shake the feeling like we’ve already done this,
forget the familiar, start planning the exit. 

The point is that I read we have compatible signs, 
a nervous little research project of mine,
between the daydreams I had about your back teeth, 
and I love you already. I don’t trust myself to speak. 

My mouth made up a rumour about your right cheek. 
Kick the table back and let’s see if it’s true,
and make this one count 
so I can keep coming back to you. 

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