once upon a time you & i swam from bed to bed heavy with a hunger for a love as light as a bedsheet to drown in
so much distance & how far have we come ?
a middle-aged woman with heavy eyes peels off our socks removing us layer by layer like she’s fleecing cattle
the dry skin swirls from my shin & the waxy stripes on my arms won’t be the first she’s ever seen
( a reminder how deep you can cleave the flesh before the body asks the blood to swell
a reminder of the gap where all this horror burns between what the body feels & the mind demands the body do about it )
she plys our skins with emollient thick as grease & we are left to sit in our sweat like chops spitting in the pan this sofa all that holds us adrift straying further from the life we were tethered to
in a pacific-blue hoodie my fingers shake around a thermos as outside the guttering chokes with ice & the snow flurries to fill roads like words in a notebook
we wake in the same room somehow thinking we’re the same person we were yesterday in a world that feels strangely familiar strangely cold
the coffee we plunge the cigarettes we roll by the open window the days disappear down our lips
& even sleep cannot carry the weight of a human body in distress
our dreams felled stacked & staining the pillow like pollen
the carers come again & again to unwrap us of what holds us until all that’s left are tears streaming down tattooed wrists & onto the sofa that has carried us like a mother for eight months
a shallow grave beneath a dusty ceiling the lampshades lolling like buoys through the dark of so much dumb slumber
do you ever wonder where our bodies go when we dream ? how even in sleep our hearts falter & life cannot carry us any further ?
the days pass the room repeats us inside it in endless variation & how long would it take for someone to notice if we awoke or never broke through the next morning ?
we are cripples & death is what we’re meant to do so long as we do it quietly so long as we do it slow
Daniel Sluman is a 30-year-old poet and disability rights activist. He co-edited the award-winning disability anthology FTW: Poets against Atos, and was named one of Huffington Post’s Top 5 British Poets to Watch in 2015. His second collection the terrible was published by Nine Arches Press last year, and he is currently co-editing a new anthology of disability poetry, as well as preparing for a PhD at Birmingham City University in 2017. This poem was previously published by The Literateur.