Poetry: Lent

It seems sickening that this year may contain
the loose skin of your upper arms, the sweat
on the backs of your legs. I am used to measuring
moments by watching the zipper teeth on your coat closing,
scarves clasped at our throats. The cat is in the garden
again screeching to be fed by anyone who’ll listen,
and for a moment, I join in.

The birds outside my window wake me early, the air sweet
with mustard greens and new beginnings, wet bundles
of grass cuttings. I forgot to give up on love, but soon
there will be no excuses to run for cover from the weather.
The toads begin their journey over motorways
routed to water, their remains flat and shrivelled
in the layby like leather.

These are spring afflictions: I lost more than an hour
watching the stubbornness of a crocus bud flowering,
it’s beady eye opening suddenly reminding me
how we survived the winter, didn’t we?
Daffodils sprout underfoot where we cut through
the park, leaving yellow stains on the pavement
that match the calluses on your palms.
With the morning light fluorescent like a closing bar,
smoking in the daylight feels harsher on my lungs
and the squirrels judge me for littering.

So when it rains I pick up snails between my fingers,
grip their shells and feel the momentary resistance
of a creature packaged in fragile calcium and afraid,
before correcting their path across the concrete
to see them on their journey safely.