I Saw You This Morning

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327

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I saw you this morning, from the back, with your light stripy sweater and your over-sized jeans, your willowy walk and your white headphones. Your artfully ruffled black hair. I imagined your face, captured an image, guessed your eyes to be a little tired, with slight or very pronounced dark circles. 
My heart leapt, I thought of hooting but you were getting further away and a truck kept blocking me in, it was a morning in August.
I remember we had said “You light up my life” without knowing that there would be a price to pay for all that.
You left everything and I did too. We got together, we tried. Tried to overcome the guilt, your children’s misery, and my husband’s jealousy.
I thought we could live on love and fresh air and that nothing could stop us. We had to try in order to stop thinking about it, give in so as not to be tempted any more.
You were kind, good in bed, handsome at times, and you were sure of yourself. You promised you would love me to bits, perhaps I wanted to check, I went home, and you stayed.
I did not really know why I could not bear you loving me like that. I wanted you to have friends and family to turn to, but instead of that you had a lot of baggage and turning to me was enough for you. I told you I understood but I did not know what I was talking about.
You kissed me like a teenager, I can remember all your burning kisses, I loved them. We talked lot, we giggled, you were good at everything, I found that irritating.
We cried a lot, we moved in together, slept on your old sofa and then broke it from too much loving, even the neighbors would be able to confirm that.
It was good fortune that had brought us together, we pitied those who would never know our luck. It was luck we did not know how to make the most of, and not for lack of trying.
Too fragile to sustain each other, too febrile to get out of it, it was difficult to admit that we might have made a mistake.
Incapable of knowing, of answering your questions, I distanced myself. I left you there like an idiot. You used to say to me, “If you go I’ll have lost everything,” but I did not come back. 
I could find no fault with you that would help me to leave you, not one outburst of nastiness, just a touch of naivety. I struggled to accept that it might not work simply because in the end I no longer felt good by your side in the still-fresh context of our respective separations. There was no alternative.
You wanted us to get married, I saw a psychotherapist. “You are afraid of commitment,” the shrink told me.
You wanted to be a dad and I wasn’t sure. You had enthusiasm to spare but I preferred to wait.
But it was crazy how much we were in love, we even allowed each other to miss each other. I had a hollow in my stomach when you weren’t there, if it made me cry you were happy. You would play songs on me with your fingers, I loved that. The minutes spent by your side were pure concentrated happiness. I did not really know how to renew the prescription, perhaps it was just a lucky dose.
I saw you this morning, from the back, with your light stripy sweater and your over-sized jeans, your willowy walk and your white headphones. You turned round; it wasn’t you. Now I know how that feels. I did not choose you and for the rest of my life you will turn round, and it will not be you.

Translated by Wendy Cross

327

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