How my lover became less elemental is hard to say.
The day the fire melted from his bones and the sweat
on his brow turned to sugar, fell beyond calendars.
I noticed it when we stopped talking of dragons
and the sex on TV made him cry.
I would hold on to him, hold him by the shoulders, narrower now,
hold him by the hand in case he thought
he would whirl away like a bewildered leaf.
And in nightmares spent fumbling off the sheets
to the crêpey curl of his moaning,
I loved him more,
folding him twice at first, then later three times to me
in remembrance of how it used to be.
On evenings of fierce moonlight
he was calm, when the garden reflected
his similar insubstantial shadow.
All was the same then.
Even the trees looked familiar.
“The Softening” by Diane Cook was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick
Diane Cook is a poet, playwright, short story writer and a founding member of Congleton Writers’ Forum, a Cheshire-based group which has just celebrated 25 years of productive writing. She has gained awards for plays, short stories and poetry, including First Prize in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015. As well as co-writing and editing a poetic narrative Slaughter by the Water based on the true story of the Congleton Cannibal, she has also directed her own psychological drama Splinter; and her tragi-comedy We Would Have Noticed The Moon has been filmed as a black box TV play was screened in 2016.