We left the city and found at the gates

a prescription with your name on it.

We took the metro to the beach

and on the shore, we saw

a row of your teeth.

Dear stranger, it was so nice

before the war. We read letters

at the breakfast table while one of us

stood with a bayonet at the door.

Now we are forced into uniforms

to die on beds of arrows. The cafés

are deserted but from the trenches

we can still hear David Bowie sing

Never let me down, and it’s 1987.

I’m curious, did you ever have a moustache?

Did you stop believing love would arrive

like a grand railway collision? Dear stranger,

we may be fighting cousins, but try

to remember a time of happiness.

In a garden, say, with the sweetness

of pomegranate bursting in your throat.

All your dogs on the grass—even the lost

ones—panting with the hard breath

of a morning walk. Or a late February evening

with your father, banging kitchen vessels

down the street, to chase out winter

and welcome spring, sounding the air

with tiny detonations. You were a child.

How the world filled you then. How it fills

you now, whispering from behind the line

of silver birches, Just get out, just go.

I have robbed these memories and I give

them to you, dear stranger. Take them.

They may save your life.


Footnote: this poem was created using the Emptiness constraint as the starting point.