My roommate moved out today.
Split her bed to pieces and packed it into a hockey bag.
Took the television, the bathroom shelving,
the knick knacks out of the hallway.
The only thing left in her room is a lamp
and the router.
Somehow she even loaded all her plants into the U-Haul.
I heard her and her Dad shuttling loads
up and down the stairs while I hid my mouth away
from his immune system in my room.
I’d always bugged her about those plants.
How she couldn’t stop buying them. Jonesed for them
the way, I’m told, hoarders collect magazines
or plastic bags or broken appliances— comforts
to keep the distress of the future at bay.
I named our living room Jurassic Park.
I’d jump out from behind the couch, pretending to be
a drunk jaguar, lost in the jungle.
I was an okay roommate.
Great with dishes, less so the bathroom –
even less so at remembering to buy paper towels,
and, in the old world, toilet paper.
We lived together a year, then the virus
killed her job, and now she has to go.
I’m standing in the empty hall reminding myself
I’m lucky to have anywhere to live at all.
Of the small satisfaction to come from moving
the desk into the living room for the light,
the oversized chair to the window to watch
the neighbours sprint the street, maintaining
their bodies while the world burns,
that I’m lucky to have met her.
We were confined to our quarters
even before this. One mental illness each,
the calling card of our lives.
She understood mine the same way I think
she’d say I was patient with hers.
I never held her mistakes to the light.
She could have cupped my failings
in her palm and made me drink, instead,
we bore witness. Offered, at all hours,
a mirror for the other to look into,
no matter how sad or overwrought or conflicted
the reflection — a face that let us know
we were okay.
This is the grace the current world
strips from us. The loss I feel
when I sit in a room now,
knowing she’s not there,
breathing alongside me in the next.