Imagine being that woman who spent so long
loving someone, nearly a million years, she said.
Or was it ten weeks?
Loving him not for what he was
or what he gave her, for all he ever gave her
was a small white box made of card.
But loving him for what he wasn’t,
because he wasn’t like other men.
Which was probably why he gave her
that small white box with its ten tiny bottles,
regimented, each waiting be called up to do their bit
in the war against stresses and strains.
Uniform bottles of precious oils in shades of ochre,
deepest honey, pale yellow, and orchid white.
Like a little row of urine samples, she thought, much later.
She’d save them for special occasions, weekends, birthdays
and Christmas, when he couldn’t be with her. She’d bathe in the oils,
heady from the ylang ylang and vetivert
and a single glass of champagne. Sliding the oils
over her body, tracing his movements,
remembering him with the tips of her fingers
she’d call him on his mobile, making him moan
in the cold spare room, sitting on a pile of his wife’s ironing,
until he’d say he had to go, to put the kids to bed.
She kept each little bottle in its box, even when it was used up.
Each with it’s printed name on frosted glass;
Relax, De-stress, Unwind, Rescue, Revive.
Ten magical little bottles, all the same. All empty.
Photo: Bart Scholliers, Unsplash