I have taken to scarring lovers to mark my passing
as a prisoner will gouge his cell wall for each stolen day.
By this I can forestall some jejune meeting where they,
glass-eyed and barely flinching even as they feel the blade,
forget to lift their feet over the lies. They do not learn;
times scours a stone-etched promise, not a living burn.
When we part I pull the ripcord sewn under their skin,
or trip a timer for delayed alibis. They will remember me.
Their bodies blister and I smile, watching memory embed
in flesh so familiar I almost think it my own. I sweat
that thought out until what was caught inside is free,
each saltpanned carapace one skin cell thinner than the last.
Some day I shall throw this half truth back across the past
and sink home to blue-edged silence in a cold sea.
Memento Mori was commended by Jo Shapcott in the 2005 Mslexia poetry competition.
Isabel Rogers is about to complete her second novel. Several of her poems have been published and she’s working on her first collection. She lurks on Twitter as @Isabelwriter.