the ticking of the clock which has begun to panic

Wendy Cope

the room contains no sound
except the ticking of the clock
which has begun to panic
like an insect, trapped
in an enormous box.

Books lie open on the carpet.

Somewhere else
you’re sleeping
and beside you there’s a woman
who is crying quietly
so you won’t wake.

March 30, 2017

Dearest G,

I am about to take a sip from my third cup of coffee. It’s only 8:46 AM and I’m finding it hard to not-cry.

I asked my dad if I could stay home for a few days and simply told him that I was sad. He told me to come home starting tonight. In his message, I felt he transmitted a sense of urgency to save me. He knows my shadows. I told him that it was perhaps due to the fact that I don’t have the girls anymore, my students, who always, unfailingly, center me. That’s one.

And maybe that’s why I have been needing you so much lately. I have never been needy. In fact, I’ve always been very independent—detached, to the point of being mistaken for uncaring. I was once notorious for my coldness and my cut-off date. I used to have a shelf-life for places—5 years and then I would have to find something new.

But now I find myself needing people, wanting to envelop myself with them, wanting to be embraced all the time, wanting to hold and be held. It’s lovely, heartbreaking, liberating, hurting. The longing is much stronger now because I’ll have to hold on till July until I get to enter a classroom full of students again.

So I’ll be staying home for a few days because right now, I want to cry to a child and just sit with my dad and be healed by a love that doesn’t need words but simply proximity. Meanwhile, this song will be on replay until I find my way to my childhood bed to cry under the sheets:

We wrote tales telling them backwards
Having the endings meet where it all started

We dreamed our heads were on backwards
We could look forward to finding our lost year

We built tents out in our backyards
Tying the endings where we knew it all started

With love, still,



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