Coming to terms

Where are these terms
they are telling me
I must come to?

What they are saying to me
is that I am not as they are
(they thank their God)

But I could be – will be –
when I have come –
as they put it – to terms.

I nod my head
I do not say
(for this would make them uncomfortable)

That terms is a place
I do not want to come to
for that would be to say

that you are gone
that this colour of sky
the streets at evening

empty, endlessly walked,
this sound of dawn
this scent of waking alone

are the real colours, sounds,
scents of things,
without you there.

That my dream
in which you lie by my side

and tell me again of your love
and kiss my heart better
is a dream.

Terms is a place
of present tenses
laboriously corrected to past.

It is down a long tunnel –
once I get in there I might lose sight
of the lines of your face.

Coming to terms would mean accepting
that others have felt this before
and will again.

that these conversations
in which I tell you everything
are only one-way.

Terms might even be a place
where I had parted with your clothes
packed up your books, your music.

Terms is a far-off country
It lies beyond
many stilted storytellings.

I do not choose
to come there.

Reprinted from Rain falling by the River (Canterbury Press, 2017)