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Empires fall everywhere by Antonia Taylor




All your ghosts hang pale blue shirts, I pick the small comb,
gunpowder debris dragging its teeth & my mouth 

across your woollen scent. Pile scratching moths
on the bed next to a siege of unfinished sentences 

& all your bad days. A language you kept
at arm’s distance. Like love, you picked the easy parts, 

I sift through old receipts, two alphabets, the dusty harbour-town
in your bedside table.  The end of God’s name 

seamed into a jacket, sleeves you wrap in dreams;
somewhere, you’re watching Ayia Sophia flush red, turn east

& Constantinople’s still burning. I take your plaid scarves, now
smoky with years. You’re telling me how when you were small,

soldiers searched animal skins for weapons & your father’s loyalty
in the childhood home, I never saw. It was early spring.

Choose the forest green Aquascutum, it made you feel
like London.  Keep your passport, unapologetic as burnt-out foxholes.

I loved how you were unafraid, just your stride, made every cut-through
in Bayswater yours. Remember that time I missed work 

to meet you at the place behind Moscow Road?
You passed over the contract of homesickness,

a salted disease on the white tablecloth. Now it’s in my marrow.
I pull jumpers, coats, from the shelf, ready for strangers; 

all the parts of you I have no use for here. How 
grief falls through a pocket to loot a whole sky. 


---


Antonia Taylor is a British Cypriot writer, poet and communications expert. Her work has appeared in South, New Contexts, Blood Moon Poetry, Marble Poetry Mag and Indelible. She lives in Reading, Berkshire and is currently working on her first collection.


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