Moderately / A Lot / Extremely

I have saved up so many things
that they get in the way: 
the smell of your temple, just above
the ear; the grip of your hand
for fear it will be the last. Your laugh and
every cumulative ambulance clang
jam-stuffed in boxes.

I find it difficult to touch an object
when I know it has been touched 
by strangers or certain people: letters come
steamed open by a hundred rancid hands,
the stamp’s half-smile violated. In the fridge
the reek of plums touched by other plums,
like strange lovers, touched by people
more certain than me.

I frequently get nasty thoughts
and have difficulty in getting
rid of them: I see you dead
a thousand times a day, tripping down
the stairs or driven off the road.
When I come home from work
I bring back biscuits and the crumbs
of certain people. I strip and shower,
pinch my thighs to plum-bruise. The soap
smells like your temple. Just above
the curtain, I see your head.

I find it difficult to touch /
in a particular way. I get upset /
simply because I feel contaminated.
I need things to be arranged /
by a hundred rancid hands. I see
your blood like plum jam. The reek
of strangers touched by the dead
makes me uncertain.
Your half-smile is a temple
I fear will be the last. I stamp
your laugh to crumbs.



Imogen Cooper is 24 and is currently studying towards an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. Her work can be found in The Kindling Journal, Tether’s End Magazine, Stone of Madness Press, and more.