tell him he looks good—
even if he doesn’t; but otherwise
don’t lie. don’t tell
him that you missed him.
you did not.

say that you are well and
say it truthfully; you are well
now. he does not need to know
about the addiction; your
recovery can be yours alone.

do not accuse him; do not shout—
do not blame him for stepping
on your shadow; a sundial without
sunshine never would have operated

be grateful––
though this too
must be silent. you are lucky it happened
when you were young. you are lucky
he is a bad liar. you are lucky your
father showed you what an honest
man looks like.

it took two generations of deaths; a lump
the size of pluto under your mother’s
skin; the obliteration of your liver and
your memory for you to finally wake up
shake off the hangover
cut the cord of your telephone line and

sometimes when you drink again
you rehash your escape from
the graveyard in his mouth; the way
the barbed wire ripped the flesh on your
thighs but these scars fade.

it ended as you both predicted at
the start. you put a pin
in your own heart and let the air out; you
are still only just beginning to understand how
he has deflated you

it has been three years and six days
since the first time you met—
you should have stayed away, somewhere
behind a desk or a bar and risked the

the universe had been conspiring
to prevent this collision. you do not
believe in the universe.

who you are
is more than the look
he is giving you—
the one that still implies ownership.
he never learned who you are. it is not
your duty to show him now; your
recovery can be yours alone.

so ask after his mother but
do not ask him to return
the time he borrowed from you

all you needed was
the summer

december, he can keep. you
had enough december, after all.

Zara Shams is a student based in the South of England and in Scotland, where I am pursuing a History MA at the University of Edinburgh.