He is a musician and a writer, I told my mother.
He cooks the most amazing lasagne
and he’s read all the classics.
I didn’t tell her about how
we have to sleep with the lights on
so that when the people come, he’ll be able to see the knife he keeps by his bed
and get rid of them before they can hurt us;
about how has to walk one hour if he wants to get to the shops
because getting into a car would entail certain death.
He is my protector from all the things that
I cannot see
I come home from work
to find him balled up, a whimpering child,
in the middle of our bedroom.
Except, it isn’t our bedroom anymore:
the chest is overturned like a car that’s rolled off the road,
smashed, open and
The wardrobe doors are flung open wide,
revealing a vast, toothless mouth.
Our clothes are piled like Everest in the corner,
along with the bed sheets, our books, shoes, his guitar, a photograph of the two of us now covered with splintered glass shaped like spiders’ webs.
I wrap my arms around his frame.
I feel his sweat through our t-shirts.
I suggest a bath.
He tells me no -
if he has a bath,
they’ll drown him.
They warned him.
‘Who?’ I ask.
He points at the window,
a place where his world
overlaps with reality
Shut up, he screams,
but not at me.
I sit with him,
bring him tea,
begin to mend our broken room,
wondering how much longer I can stand
to love a person who is only half here.