Yes, now, as I entered the tube,
As the door slid shut with unconcern,
As no-one looked up, I felt your grip
Tighten, and now my blood
Races in tunnels from you.
You catch at my heart and then let go.
I know those fingers, recognise the touch,
The tearing muscles, the insensate lurch,
The dip and the recovery of my heart.
My heart beats fast at its ring of fat,
Will go on beating as long as blood
Gets through the gap ; till I drop down dead
I will feel in my limbs what my heart is at.
As I did just now. The train moves on,
Flows in the tunnel like blood and the men
Rustle their newspapers. It’s not true
That it doesn’t hurt when you run your nails
Along the tissues. And what leaps up
When your fingers flex is no longer hope.
What flows in my veins is only blood.
Let me go. This time. Just this once
Let the train move on and the door slide shut
And you on the platform. No-one’s heart
Is stronger than so many times, and – now –
That was another. It isn’t true
That habit and newspapers kill the pain.
You can dry my blood though I know you so well.
I carry you with me. I always shall.
Laurence Lerner, Selves (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), no pagination.