Love in Reverse

If only one could love backwards
there would be so much to look forward to:

that final irritation a welcome slap,
a pleasure prepaid, the tinnitus

of affection’s decay. A sanguine smile
would know the shit yet to navigate.

It could take years before you reach
the open road. Landmarks are discussed

from miles back: recollections sharpen,
surface and balloon away. You fall silent.

You sweat, bite, burn; can’t sleep, won’t eat,
fuck until you don’t remember

what turns him on. You fret about commitment,
grow awkward, even shy. Details shine –

a finger brushing hair from your face,
the taste of wine – until a knot tightens

and your vertigo fractures. Then you share
one long look of perfect balance

which pulls you to a new magnetic north
and aims you gently at the far horizon

where you drop, vanishing for your journey
on the underside. With a quiet pop,

normality clears painlessly, without shadow,
like noon over ants. Here we stand

until next time, fresh with hope,
our memories only flickers in the dark.

Love in Reverse was published by Mslexia in December 2012. During an Arvon course I attended a while back, it was the only poem that week to receive a round of applause led by one of our tutors, Carol Ann Duffy. Don’t think I’m not mentioning that now she’s Poet Laureate.