“In Your Absence” by Jason Eng Hun Lee

Still Life With Eight Oyster Shells“Still Life With Eight Oyster Shells” by Tammy Ho


I sai
d when you moved into my life,
fill the room and the room will be yours,
so you took possession of everything
and set them to darkness in your absence.

They will not forget your subtle grace:
the sofa stoops to pick up your weight,
the jar shows you its well of desire, even
the letters spread and fly from memory.

Would that you had not been kind to them,
that you had simply glanced at each object,
not turning your hands over each thing,
filled every cushion with a heart of feathers,

made every cord a connection, switched
the lights on from each remote location.
Tell me then this was not your parting gift,
that you had not joined with their reflections.

Now they pine for you, they clamour as I do
for your presence, your figure walking
through each door, each sudden precipice,
each numb footstep burning in the dark,

so cold to the touch, so absent in spirit.
So full of the love you invested here.
They move only to the command
of the dark shadow you leave behind.

[“In Your Absence” was first published in The Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology 2016.]

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Jason Eng Hun Lee is Lecturer at the Department of English Language and Literature.  [Click here to read all entries by Jason.]

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