The Foreign Memory of You – A Poem

I cock my head to one side as I look at you
As memories lined up on the wall
Contain the outlines of your face
And your voice (like the muscle memory
Of remembering song lyrics
You didn’t know you knew)
But I cannot feel your fingerprints on my skin
Anymore.
You are a foreign face in my past
Because it wasn’t me you touched
It was her.
I see her sometimes
In the shadow of my reflection
And for a split second I can almost feel the sting
As the thorns on the flowers you planted for me
Inject ink into my skin
As if it were paper,
But then I blink and the tattoos
Covering my canvas are gone.
Luckily my skin is made of paper
And paint dries in the sunlight
So I can transform easily into a new piece of art
(As I paint my leaves red
And other colours of sunsets
To commemorate the beauty and inevitability
Of change)
Before shaking my head
And shedding a shower,
(Watching the shapes curl up at the edges,
Fading to brown and sepia
Like the colours of my grandmothers photos)
To prepare my branches for new growth.
New flowers will bloom and
New pictures will be painted.
Even though the tattoos you gave me still live
On underneath layers of my skin
(And perhaps if I traced the footsteps
You left along the paths of my veins
I might be able to see their shadow if I
Held my skin to the light),
I have enough reminders of you and her
In the words she wrote
And somehow in those I see
Outstretches hands that I can hold
And be reminded of the warmth of yours.
The feelings intertwined with those words
Never seem to get buried
And somehow they always fade less than even photos,
But no matter the memories of feelings I find
In her poems,
The memory of you
Still feels foreign.

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