Memento Mori

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;
time 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 gelid sea.

Memento Mori was published by Mslexia after being ‘Commended’ by Jo Shapcott in their competition in 2005, and again on Josephine Corcoran’s poetry site in 2012.