Scratched up plastic tape is
holding together boxes that never
should have been opened in rooms
that I never wanted to be unlocked.

The ink on the cardboard
dried a lifetime ago
in a year I barely remember,
except for the hollow, dead grating
of autumn leaves skittering across
empty concrete sidewalks.

I only remember the sound, even,
because it reminded me of the very last,
wrenching moments spent by your side;
when I ran weeping from the room
I looked around, thinking that maybe
they were wrong and you hadn't left me yet.

But the leaves continued their
sluggish death rattle beneath my feet,
and you continued your choking silence
that only nightmares can do justice;
I can only remember how brushing death felt
when I'm not at all sure that I'm still alive.

I realized that I was only lying to myself,
so I put all of your things away,
out of sight but never out of mind,
in taped up boxes behind locked doors
that I passed by but never looked at,
until the tape began to crack.

I could hear the groaning
as my makeshift skyscrapers shifted,
and I was afraid that if they fell,
you wouldn't be able to get to heaven.

I patched up the torn parts and
braced for an impact that I only imagined,
but when I looked at what I had done,
the tears came back in all their blindness.

Scratched up plastic tape is holding my heart together.