I would place before your feet
The entirely of my years of moments’ pleasures,
For one second of a smile.
While you dreamt, I would lay before you bottles
Emptied through mirth; all my loose change
From weekend after weekend poorly spent;
A collection of oddments, photographs
From seaside places; the north of France;
The postcard of my first true kiss, years past;
A world of textbooks I one time read,
And all the serials I spent long nights
Hungrily reading through, to find somebody;
My first pair of skinnies, and my first and last
Cigarette packets; the soft and pleasant earth
Where as I child when walking I once fell;
My teddy bear, a replacement for you
Before I knew you; toys broken; my Game Boy Colour,
Though I lost it, I would find and place beside you;
Locks of my hair, when cut into new styles,
I’d place in envelopes and leave beside your bed.
Sweet wrappers, precious stones, new shoes
Turned old from tread and love; whole afternoons,
The weighted sun: the lingering, happy sun,
I’d cup in my hands and present to you, a mere token;
A recording of my graduation day; my diary,
Kept in secret nights, for want of you
Even before I knew you; scented candles
Left to slumber beside the bath where I
Lost whole days, dreaming; the very footprints
Of walks by the lake two miles from where I lived;
I would gather these precious and all once-precious things
And leave them at your bedside while you slept,
If I could catch you, sleeping, with a smile.
Some tokens of affection are more precious than others. Some hallmarks of memory – a photograph with friends, a postcard, a love letter – may seem to resonate more in the human heart. But I think the unimportant ones, when offered, can represent something just as genuine and sincere.
A train ticket, a stub from a screening at the cinema, the wristband from a festival; the label from a beautiful new coat, the penny change from the purchase of a good, loyal, remarkable book; a novelty key ring, a present which you laughed at for all of a second before placing to one side, and one day entirely lost; the empty bottle from the first time you changed your hair colour (the next day, everyone was either appalled or delighted, and of course the bottle was never mentioned or seen again).
I would bring back to you the footprints of all my wanderings through woods as a child; my memories of days out, picnics, holidays; even recollections of sleepless nights hopelessly counting stars; I would retrace my movements through all of my years, find each unassuming token of love or life or thought, and lay them at your feet… I would surrender each drop of joy I have ever known, in a heartbeat, if it would give you one second of sweet and simple happiness.
Because I can’t always make a grand gesture. I can’t always afford bouquet of roses. But my thoughts, every one of them, from every distant or forgotten part of my life: each of these is yours.