I went looking for her where landscapes are painted in death.
She told me once that if I couldn’t find her, I should look
to where the graves sprout
So I walked all those miles, only to find her dead,
like the promise, like the world.
Maybe if I stand there long enough, she will turn
into a shadow, or the past,
and then she will be beautiful
depending on where the sun is standing.
Depending on where the sun is standing, she will turn into a stranger
and I will slam into her, again, because strangers become doors
when there is nowhere else to go.
Depending on where the sun is standing, she will ignite,
and then every sentence will be a burning flame stretching years.
She will start explaining herself, and by the time she runs out of breath,
we will be old enough to sing sad songs,
and then we will wait for the day, when the tears we never shed
turn into rain.
It may be too late for us now,
but I will wait outside for answers that never come, like the one she left
on the bathroom mirror she punched when she couldn’t find the question,
or the love song she left in the guitar she broke on that night when we sat outside
waiting for stars to fall, only to end up falling apart.
Forgive me for my role that night
but how dare you urge me to move on, when you broke a promise,
when with all the life on earth, you chose death for me?
Depending on where the sun is standing, there is a knife in my back
Maybe someday it will grow and explode into flowers, or a memory,
like the first day we met, when the fish in the aquarium looked like chessboards
and the man with the sombrero reminded her of the sea
where they go to die, like her, like that memory where children become parents
and parents die, then we tell them our secrets.
Now I must name the falling stars after her when her dying face
turns the colour of darkness, and then all may be forgiven.
But I will hold it against her that she never told me she was
and I was happy, in my mind.
She let me confuse the lit cigarette for light in the depth of her eyes
If only her lips could move again she would tell me that she was sorry.
There is everything to forgive now. It does not end here.
at least not for the leaf that abandoned the tree to fall where it belongs,
or the roses rotting in the basket that we confused for our souls.
Harden me, master, for if I give her my heart now,
I will have nothing else.
I gave her the stars once and she left me the night.
Let this breath remain where I put it, lest I pull it out, and her with it, again.
But lucky me tonight. I am only bleeding. It was only a knife.
The naked kings in their palaces are cold, albeit for seconds.
Mothers are crying for their sons who stand lost
in the warmth of thighs they do not understand.
I should have left before the house turned to ash.
But it’s too late now.
I have already breathed.
Johnpaul Simiyu is a 26-year-old Kenyan author, journalist, poet and teacher. He holds a bachelors degree in Education (English and Literature majors). His main inspiration is the works of Sylvia Plath, Ocean Vuong, and and Pablo Neruda.