Sadness by Claire Askew


“Your sadness has no / lips, nothing to press against my / sadness.” – Heather Bell

You walk in and I can see
you’re defeated — with every
sexy angle smoothed away
you’re cold and sad
as a paperweight.
You’ve tried to hide
behind a clean shirt
and scent that clings like ink
to my hands, keeps me awake
for hours, but I can see
the scraps of sadness’ feast
sticking in your teeth and hair.
It’s on you like a brand, dark
and bittersweet as blood,
my hungry gaze. I want
to haul it out of you
and thrash its sticky blackness
over stones, jealous
of the stifling hold it has.
I place my hands
face up on the table,
their insides pale as flags
of surrender, and say
give it to me to deal with
later. Let me take the midnight watch
so you can sleep.

                – Claire Askew

Claire Askew lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she works as a lecturer in Literature, Communication and Creative Writing and hoards manual typewriters in her spare room.