Helen Bowell

Coming from the Mill

Coming from the Mill

Close to midnight, we finish the first puzzle
we bought from the Arndale. For the first time
since you told me, we try drowning the silence with kissing.
It’s a jigsaw of a Lowry painting, and it’s pretty tough
because all those half-bent spines and hats coming
from the mill look the same. I touch your hand,
you touch my lips, parting them like lifting the top
off the jigsaw box: smooth, well-worn, easy.
It bothers me how hard it is, all those people
being the same but slightly different, enough
to make it clear you’d messed up after six or seven pieces,
but never to tell exactly where. I wrinkle your clothes
into the floor, deciding it’s easier to shuffle on
than guess who else has done the same.

The jigsaw wakes me in the night. I can’t stop wondering
if we pushed some of the pieces in the wrong places
and never noticed, imposing on families displaced faces,
lost arms, broken legs, severing siblings clean in half,
it bothers me for hours, until I have to get out of bed and check,

and find you’ve tidied it away
and laid out the puzzle for tomorrow evening’s game.

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