The Tee Shirt – 02/01/1987 – 02/01/2013

In the back of my closet,
In the darkest corner behind and
Under other innocuous cardboard boxes,
is the cardboard coffin containing
the detritus of a past life.
In the bottom of that box is
Your teeshirt, worn the last night
We were together.
Quadruple plastic bags, sealed,
One in the other, guarding the tee shirt.
Rarely, I pull the box out.
I sift through memories:
The chopsticks you gave me on our first date.
Your shaving mug with the last bit
Of soap sealed in its own bag.
Cards, haiku, stubs to Springsteen concerts,
A black and white photo of you at the age of six.
A black and white photo of you in the library
At the University of London.
Cherry blossoms long since turned to dust,
Our sake set.
The tee shirt.
When I am feeling extremely
Masochistic, I pull out the shirt.
I close my eyes and flagellate myself
Until my soul is ragged and bloody
With memories.
Only then can I open the bags with the shirt.
Open each until I can touch the tee shirt.
Inhale deeply the scent. After all
This time, it still smells of you.
I gently touch inside
The shirt, where it last touched your skin.
Sandalwood, whiff of jasmine, the unique
Smell of you mingled with the other smells.
I close my eyes. Your face as you said goodbye.
You didn’t have to go back.
You could have stayed.
Over and over and over, back and forth.
I didn’t have to stay.
I could have gone with you.
Over and over and over, back and forth.
I touched your face and your lips,
Damp with tears that would not be stopped.
You said, “I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul.”
I turned and walked away.
I did not look back.
I sat in my car being ripped apart
By grief, by love, by…….I don’t know.
I finally drove away.
On my pillow lay you tee shirt.
A sacred shroud, I put it away,
Sealed it safely from light and harm.
One last smell before the ritual
Re-sealing of the bag,
Inside the other bags,
Stowing away at the bottom of the box.
Sliding back to the darkest corner of the closet
And re-stacking the other boxes.
Closing the closet door
Walking away – again.

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