I don’t know why, Lindsay, but last night,
smoking in the stone cloisters of the quadrangle,
I thought of you. It’s been years; three at least, or maybe two.
I still remember everything. Your hair, once dyed fire red -
the embers had fizzled to a gingery-blonde by the time we met;
a colour that matched your freckles.
We took Psychology together – a class you often left
prematurely, out of boredom or for attention.
Didn’t realise it back then; always jumped up
and left with you to go and dry your fake tears
in the girls bathroom. You complained of eating disorders
and OCD – always washed your hands twice when I was around.
I invited you to my New Year’s Eve party –
and you told my gay best friend he was going to hell.
That was one thing I never could figure out;
a born-again Christian – a real militant warrior of God, you were.
I never dared contradict you when we sat at the bus stop
on free periods, and you chain-smoked your way
through a pack of Marlboro Lights. Never mentioned the hypocrisy
of your pre-marital sex, binge-drinking, and God knows what else...
You disappeared in the autumn, but you’d always threatened to leave.
Didn’t apply to uni – instead you went to a Christian women’s retreat.
You texted me once whilst I was in Moscow,
surprised to find I was so far away.
Never heard anything after that.
Now, sat with my own cigarette, (started six months after you left),
I think of my faith. If God will forgive you, Lindsay –
will he forgive me? I wonder where you are...
Maybe singing hymns with suicidal middle-aged women,
praying for each other in a circle... Or have you stolen away
to a corner of a walled garden to light up?
And I wonder, as you put the cigarette to your lips, do you think of me?