VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Stephen Whitter

What Told Me You Were Dead

What told me you were dead that Friday morning
was a loaf of bread.
As I wheezed down your street I swore,
well you hadn’t answered my messages and apart from each other who else had we to call?
So I had set out…
But when, in the just arrived morning light I could see your back door step I knew.
I knew because no matter how sick, you would crawl if needs be to the door from the couch where you slept.
You would open the door a crack and, as the cat ran
out you pulled in the bread and milk and then staggered back to bed.
The bread with it’s garish, colourful wrapping had to be got out of sight, why?
Yesterday’s bread and a carton of milk left for you for nothing each morning by Brian, who tapped the door when he did, ‘Milkman’ Brian’ one of life’s good ones and he could not lose his job.
That’s why.
So, when even through the misty half-light I could see the bread on the steps, it was  a bad scenario,
you could even be dead.
I stopped, stooped, picked up the milk and thick sliced and then straightened to catch my breath.
I fished in my pocket for your spare key , the key you gave me when I gave you one for mine, and I remembered you had cried, for it seemed symbolic at the time.
With milk in one hand and bread in the other I went inside, muttering ‘fuck no, please’ once or twice.
Your Cat did not run past my feet, eager for his morning rituals.
The Cat you loved and loved you too was curled on the couch, he made no move.
The Cat looked at me, my God, how he looked at me and he let out not a miaow, but a faint cry , he then
licked and sniffed your still, still head.
And in doing so told me the same as the bread.

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