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Andrew Shelley

I wake up, you say 'Iím tired'
I get in the bath, you plead 'Iím happy dirty'
I brush my teeth, you say 'I canít taste my dinnah'
I try to work, you say 'I doní wanna'
I Ďd like to go for a walk but youíre sitting fast
You say 'Come and sit down, make me some tea'

But Iím already too tired to care for you

We go to town and buy you the coffee
you used to like, that I still like you to drink

Later weíll see the people that make you cry
that I still want to see.

Sometimes you open your eyes wide and are surprised
youíre not crying

You whisper to me you want to be with that girl
but Iím youíre father and mother now

We go to get food in the supermarket
I buy the stuff you point to

In the street the light makes me squint and sweat
but in it youíre already beginning to uncurl

feeling sick and semi-happy, we trudge through sunlight

But very soon in the day you want to go home

You crane behind you to look at the people who pass

In the room, you want to take the curtain from the glass
but I need the dark

I tell you thereís nothing behind it but windows and roofs.
You look away

You think the dark means sleep but itís not time yet

Thereís something youíre always tugging at my heart for
so I light a cigarette

Your hand slips then tightens around me like a net

I think of lullabies for you, put on tunes

Evening, you ask What did you do, What are you going to do
When will it end and When will it get better

I open a bottle and tell you - Tomorrer, tomorrer
and that shushes you at twilight when the shadows emerge

and you go to sleep without crying, without horror thinking
Tomorrow, Tomorrow itís going to be fine

as the floodlights come on in the courtyard

I sit up watching you, sipping, puffing, sipping
in the blinding glare coming straight through the windows

and when I try to go to sleep, you turn and bury yourself in me
and I curl up around you and it hurts, but I try to love you

wondering, What am I doing here?
Is it going to be alright?, Itís going to be alright isnít it?

it feels strangely like youíre killing me


Andrew Shelley was born in 1962 in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England. He read English at Cambridge, graduating with a First. Did a Ph.D. on Samuel Beckett at Oxford. Held a Junior Research Fellowship there from 1990-92. On completion of this, he abandoned academia and critical prose to return to a long-held ambition to write creatively. Has lived and worked in Greece, Turkey and Italy. Currently drafting a fifth (unpublished) collection of poems. His articles and reviews have appeared in Essays in Criticism, Encounter, The New Statesman and Society and PN Review. His poems have appeared in various little magazines, webzines and anthologies including the Oxbridge May Anthologies of poetry and short fiction, Big Bridge, and Aught. Individual poetry publications includePeaceworks (The Many Press, 1996).

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