Could this be how to love? by Elizabeth Gibson

Creative Writing

Elizabeth Gibson’s poem was shortlisted in the Best Single Poem category for the Disabled Poets Prize 2024.

The winners were announced on 16 March 2024, during Deptford Literature Festival, in an online event.


Could this be how to love?

© Elizabeth Gibson 2024


You sit on your palms for warmth and feel damp, find them gullied

with red; no, coral. You have bled through pad, pants, pyjamas. 


You eat every trace of chocolate in every box of cereal, rummaging

—so painful on your ears—for every-last-dark-chocolate-pearl. 


Being typical, like a moon, does appeal. The nurse said five weeks 

is okay, but these days, you are hurtling like a comet into smaller orbits.


You forgo your daily walk. It is bucketing down. You eat the cereal

that remains, just granola lumps and milk, and it feels like completion.


You didn’t know you could lose this much blood and not really feel it,

like you forgot you could feel this peaceful, be tender within a body  


that usually hurls you out: thou must go charging along frozen canals! 

It seems for once to give itself in, say: Yes. I will rest in your lap, 


if you feed me, keep me cosy—see, this is nice, isn’t it? Intimacy. 

You should try it, sometime. Let it all go, until you are lamp and pillows,


clattering rain outside, take this sore person, her slick hair, her waist,

hold it like it is burning and wanting. Stroke her like she is a little rabbit,


give her all of your dots of chocolate, placed perfectly in the centre 

of her laughing tongue, and warm your cold hands in her coral waters.