The Half-loved

by Laura Scott

Sometimes you hear her, breathing heavily,
climbing the stairs to find you in the room
where the old silk wallpaper still clings
to the walls. And then you feel her sighs

tightening around your ribs as she rehearses
her lines one more time so she can tell you
exactly where you went wrong in a voice that cuts
through your chest. Sometimes you see her

swaying in the doorway, churning the ground
under her feet like Hannibal’s last elephant,  
tired of all that armour cutting into the folds of her skin.
Sometimes you taste her in the dregs of your wine,

swirling in the bottom of your glass and then,
she cuts you off, mid-swallow, until your throat
remembers all those conversations you turned
with a skier’s grace when they got to the precipice

where the love should have been. The half-loved
remembers everything – every slight you ever dealt her,
every letter you sent her. Sometimes she runs
her fingers over the white space around your name

until the paper is as soft as cloth, and pictures you
putting down your pen and thinking of someone
else. The half-loved saw it all, blinked it in
through her dark lashes, and is weeping it out today.