After all that time I could have ended up thinking I had
invented you, but I dived and found your old letters from Cornwall.
Glued together they form a lifebelt which inflates when I sigh.
Desperately warm was the microclimate on the Isles of Scilly,
but once back in cold London, I took a wishful bite into a Cornish
pasty, and the dry conch gave way to that oniony substance
so unworthy of reminiscence. Have we spent our best years
under salty waters, our hearts wrapped in the same scab casing,
morsels mixed up with sand and sealed into oblivion?
The out-of-focus pictures of gulls you were so proud of
omitted the musty smells, mossy crosses, bus rides in the rain.
How they laughed swooping down onto our bare love.
Your stepfather the mineworker enjoyed hearing
my voiceless cascading happiness echoing
the screech. Weird crackling sounds that took him
right back to the tin mine, the tin cry. There was a time
before the tins, not of the hard crab apples you fed me, but of
hearty pasties with crimped edges, meals sealed by a weavy seam.
At Paddington station an Indian man peddled pasties.
The hard diced potatoes I chewed on filled my ears with our feet
stomping, already crushing muddied ice. We thought our love
was as tough as seamen, sailing on noisy trains racketing
about the country, getting in and out of wet urban grottoes.
From Islington to Helston, from St. John’s Wood to St. Ives,
tirelessly hoping to last. But in the dark the engine was howling
the racking pain to come, after the seals of our pact had been broken.
The recipe instructed to slit the pastry for the steam to escape.
You incised my heart and left it unstitched, unconscious
of the aftertaste. Stale flour castles crumble over so easily,
washed away is the original shape of consumed food.
You said you didn’t write again because you went snorkelling.
It all boils down to the same old ocean of silence so full
of remorse you expected me to forget and forgive.
Today I live by the sea and my lips are sealed.
(Sabine Huynh, published in The Last Stanza – An anthology of poems from Tel Aviv)