The first day I met him, he was
in my coffee shop on the corner
of St. George’s street.
It was Friday, at just gone 4pm
and I was drying latte glasses
putting them back on the shelf.
He could have gone
to McDonalds across the road for
‘Caution: Extra Hot’ coffee,
but he didn’t seem like the kind of
extra this or that guy.
The rain came down
like shards of fine, broken up,
smooth by the time it hit the ground.
Rain always made me want to dance,
but I had other glass to clean.
It spotted his grey zip up,
with a hood he never took shelter in.
The ends of his long hair,
rat like and straight
down his back.
Hands dug deeply
into his pockets, he ordered a
I asked, ‘what kind?’
And he shrugged.
Most people ask for
A skinny shot extra hot combination
lock to unlock their tired eyes
and mac computers sitting hunched,
so over, hung, over,
one by one like single strands of unnumbered days,
wired up to their life support
with spaghetti strap beat makers.
But he just looked at me
With his brown eyes
Like he just needed something,
And so I poured him a coffee.
I made him my favourite.
A caramel macchiato,
Sweet and to the point.
He paid in silvers and sat
at the window
counting the droplets on
the smeared window pane.
He even took out a notebook
and pen, a walking cliché
except for his hair.
His hair, I liked.
I served a trickle of other
non-people, and eventually forgot
all about him
sitting in the corner of my coffee shop, half hidden by
A peace lily
until just before closing when I had finished cleaning
the glass. He got up and returned his cup.
And I watched him go, reaching
for the handle.
‘Hey,’ I called after him.
He turned, biting his lip gently.
‘Got time for another?’
He shuffled, momentarily.
‘On the house.’
With a smile, he sat
at the bar, I placed down the last glass
on my shelf, fresh and warm from the dishwasher.
We laughed and talked
about our pasts, our backgrounds
in music. I thought about how I would find
the words to write all of this down.
‘Aren’t we just a pair of clichés?’ I laughed.
He shook his head, sliding over a piece
of his heart
with his name and number
tattooed onto: our fingertips touched.
‘Stories always have to begin somewhere.’
He showed me the West End.
We walked, arms linked, side by side, together, smiling
up at the lights, darting between
the dark clouds spitting
into our eyes.
‘Somehow, it’s always raining,’ I mused,
thinking about other places
he might take me.
shots of single malt
our expensive taste
of what was not
smoke and mirrors,
fake names, dinner and a show.
We skipped the show
to walk along the thames,
dropping pencil to paper scratched
dreams and fears
into: the current.
We watched them float
away, holding the idea
of them in our mouths, the same warm taste
of the day we’d had. And even then
I missed him. I missed the way he didn’t
even need to look at me before
his hand held mine. I knew then.
I knew I wanted to tell him
what was written on my
float away dream.
How I’d found the words
to write and tell, how all of this began.
In the sea air, I breathe
him in, and feel
the weight clasping against my back
bone. The shore whispers,
“he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone,”
and I throw stones to silence
them, until my arm aches.
First was his throat,
sore, and with the occasional tissue,
covered in blood. His light,
The second, when he could not express
his need for solace
in the dim darkness
of his bedroom,
where the curtains hung limp
like peeled skin.
I just lay beside him,
my arms wrapped around
and entwined my fingers in his silky hair.
But that was just. It.
I knew then, the moment
the first strand came apart, still laced
through my fingertips.
I knew then how he would leave me.
And how the day I met him
could never be described as a tragedy
and how it could never be a loss,
because from him, I had gained more
than a life, more
than his heart, more
than just another cup of coffee.
This time I didn’t need to find the words.
And neither could he.
‘Our lives in turn will always become great stories; it’s just finding the person to pass it on that matters.’
The sea never gave me any comfort.
Not before today.
But somehow it tells me,
with the gentle to and fro of the tide,
that nothing in this world will ever really leave us,
and if it does, it will always come back,
one way or another.