When I Think Of Love

by Caroline Richards

I see a paper bag packed-in between
               the shelving cracks of our
               cupboards, hapless container of
               croissant crumbs and cacao—
               half-baked and half-hearted—
               bleeding mini-chocolate
               from the veins of yellow Nestle bags.

Something lost and wet, left crumpled
               in cardboard amid boxes of
               unbleached flour
               and baking soda,

               or the stacked vertebrae of spices
               you mispronounced
               then deemed done-in.

               Thyme. Anise.

I see sunflower seeds sleeping in the
               corridors of our kitchen

linoleum countertops covered in misplaced
               substances: cocktail mixers, Coco Puffs, and
               the cheap coke you thought you could keep
               in our shitty blender.

The lone lipstick cap tucked
               under the stove,

the mysterious orange film coating
               on the microwave plate,

the super-glue in the gutters
               standing by.


I see dust just about everywhere,
                              hair everywhere else.

               Dog hair, hair in the drain,
               in the defeated egg-shell
               and entrenched in the dryer.

Hair you hated more than my cooking.

Hair in the hairbrush you threw
               on the chalked sidewalk
               as a gift, you said,
               for the love-bird’s spring nest,

even though you claimed
you hated that ​motherfucking​ bird.

               I see you deserting it there,
               wearing your work boots.

You tracked their bottomless mud over
               the browned four-leaf clovers we
               shook loose from between book
               spines and onto the fake wooden
               floor boards.

My thumb brushed briefly against the luck
               cradled in those rotting caves before
               you threw them in the dumpster
               outside the ice rink.

The hockey team lost every game.
I see shoes and duvet covers banished
               to the porch-steps where you
               sat, when everything was
               somewhere in a box;

               my heart in a box, covered in tissue paper.

               You stood on those steps
               and wrapped it yourself,
               still in your work boots.

               Like I was the real work.

And all the wasted tape you flung to the
               ground binding that heart-box was
               the job you loathed.
It covered the dead grass and stuck
               to the tips of your fingers.

Which only made you angrier,
               how that house held us
               the way wounds hold onto scabs.

But this wound won’t close.

Open bay windows and stormy sea waves
               we saw from the porch,

broken porch swings you
               promised to fix,

unfixable fights we fought on
               the stairs,

searing bare skin behind the shower
               curtain upstairs some Sundays.

               Your callused hands.

When someone says love I see your work
               boots, smashing green glass bottles
               in the white-shell driveway,

               So loud that I ran.

back to University & College Poetry Prizes