We used to press cheeks yearly.
Your wrinkled portrait would hug my skin and make it feel home again.
Although I’d only visit once every year the folds in your face were my safe space.
They’d catch my tears when our lips would finally meet again.
They’d stretch my smile when it had become a pout.
They’d make words travel far away that had me shout and soften every blow.
Being with you is like a warm piece of toast.
Effortless, nothing difficult.
Easing me into every new situation like a welcoming host.
Smooth like the butter we would smear on top and comforting like your endless love.
I remember eating those pieces of toast while sitting on the carpet floor.
Everything was soft, the flowered couch, embroidered pillows, the rugs.
Just as the touch of these words travelling from your mouth:
There was nothing more reassuring to life than those two words.
Every day would feel like ‘Sunday roast’.
Days where time wouldn’t be noticeable.
Only knowing when the morning had become afternoon
by the cups of tea that had been poured.
We were never bored.
Seeing you in the same chair day after day, year after year never became dull.
Your raspy breath was my favorite melody.
Hearing you breathe would remind me there is not much more that I need
than a cup of tea to turn the frown upside down.
That heat between my fingertips made us forget the gray tones out in the streets.
But it seems the vintage record got scratched.
I noticed the song kept repeating the same phrase.
And your memory has become dismantled from its capacity.
Time passed by.
But to me you were still the same locked portrait stuck in my memory.
Your wrinkles were merely rivers
secretly they had become a route to a remembrance that has passed.
Or the gaze in your eyes.
It never became vague.
But somewhere in between my teens and the end of my roaring twenties
the light amid the shades had slowly become dim.
So I imported your chair and moved it into my heart
For you to permanently stay there.
This new home will have that same painting of your previous dog.
The heater can be the warmth of our love.
The view has upgraded from cold, wet streets to warm, fuzzy memories of you and me making sandwiches for dinner from the roast the day before.
Next to your chair I’ll place a record player.
It is mine but now yours.
To live there for good.
It repeats your raspy breath playing my favorite melody.
I’ll put the kettle on for a warm cup of tea.
Play that scratched record and drink your warm love while hearing your whisper:
And while I know you would slowly fade away one day
like the light in your eyes has slowly become dim.
I will be comforted by the idea that after all those years we are now permanent neighbors.