Without You

Julia Kaylock
Night One
No sleep
tossing, turning 
wondering when you'll come home

hours pass, anxiety creeps
can't think straight
morning light cracks my brittle shell,
heart implodes
I fear the worst 
yet hope lingers.

Night Two
No sleep
mind wanders
trying to change the course of events
reliving those thirty seconds of time
between you being here,
then not

wondering if you’ll come home
mind going back
to that place, that time
trying to orchestrate
a change of events
to achieve my preferred outcome

then, there you’d be on the bed,
already taking up too much room
waiting for us to join you.

Night Three
body aches, mind shakes
tears, more tears, endless tears,
exhaustion, finally

dreamless, fitful sleep
no desire to wake
and face reality,
there are no answers
to my why’s and how’s 
no respite from existential angst.

Night Four
trying to send a message
into the abyss,
nothing, it's just a void
can't see you, hear you, feel you
this altered reality is untenable,

I want to stay on guard
but the body craves sleep,
dreams come
but they provide no answers

about why you ran
where you've gone, or
whether you are even alive.

I gather possible answers 
but they are tumbleweeds,
ever moving, fragile
scatterers of impotent seeds

Night Five.
Yet another cycle on the calendar of doom
I accept all responsibility,
I failed you – I am a failure
In this game of life

you're not the first to go,
just the latest in a long line of losses,
but this is the hardest blow. 

Still hoping, as the edges of hope
blur into acceptance
and I hate my hardened heart
for its ability to bear
the loss of you, my little mate
who was there for me,
for almost ten years,

Night Fifteen
You have almost faded from my memory,
I no longer listen for your sweet cat sounds
as you arrive home after an adventure.

I am so empty without you
but I must not dwell 
in case my heart, fast-glued
should fracture yet again.

Contextual Essay: In June 2022, shortly after moving to a new location at some distance from our former home, my husband and I were isolating due to Covid19 when my cat Leo made a sudden decision to bolt. A gift from my daughter almost ten years earlier when I was experiencing a particularly difficult series of events, Leo was more than a pet, he was my friend and companion as I mapped out and navigated a new life path. His loss, which I have now accepted as final, has taught me a lesson about the impermanence of life and the need to accept the things I cannot change, even as I continue to mourn.

Julia Kaylock is a widely published poet who also occasionally writes prose. She is also an editor and publisher at litoriapress.com. Julia co-edited (with Denise O’Hagan) anthologies of poetry Messages from the Embers: from devastation to hope (Black Quill Press, 2020) and Poetry for the Planet: an anthology of imagined futures (Litoria Press, 2021). Her memoir in verse, Child of the Clouds was published in September 2021 (Litoria Press). Julia has worked as a career coach, counsellor, adult educator, journalist and feature writer. These days, assisting other writers to tell their stories is an honour and a privilege. Julia lives in North-Eastern Victoria, Australia and enjoys exploring her beautiful country.



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