How to dress for your breakup

What to wear when seeing your lover for what, perhaps, is the last time:
you want to remind him that he once thought you were attractive
but you don’t want to look like you are trying too hard
remember the last time he complimented your appearance
and go for a watered-down version of this

Pull your hair off your face so she could touch your cheek unfettered
should she choose to reach out in the tenderness you’ve been missing
or better yet, let your hair fall undone to your shoulders
it will remind her of sex
it will give you something to do with your hands

When preparing to leave the house to break up with your lover
do not spend too much time in front of the mirror
you are not narcissus romancing your reflection
but do remember to love yourself

Use eye-liner to trace tiny spells along your waterline
one charm, one curse and a hex
sharpen it to fine point before composing
complicated mantras along your inner thighs
repeating all the things you must remember
when the conversation gets derailed
say prayers over your pigments and gently pat them into your flesh
whisper the story you’ve been telling yourself about him into your lipstick
turn the mirror to the wall to reflect upon all the things you know
to be true about him and about you
remember the weight and dimensions of the luggage
he left circulating the claims carousel
how you watched him struggle to balance that familiar baggage
on a cart
do not laugh at his clumsiness
try not to cry either

Do not wear your recently sleepless nights
like a hair-shirted martyrdom;
be sure to conceal the dark crescents of your own carryon eyes
so they do not overshadow your convictions
choose mascara as dark as the shadow
that slipped between your caring and her defense
between her kindness and your violence

When preparing to leave the house to visit a lover you might be leaving
wear clean underwear
ensure your body is cropped, clipped and polished
just in case
you need to viscerally remind each other
how good it feels for egos to feast on pretty flesh
after all
you must be prepared for anything

Massage exotic oils on your pulse points
select the ones that remind him
of the childhood home he wishes he had
the ones that smell like breast-fed babies
and something sweet in the oven for dessert

When breaking up with your lover
be sure to wear a poem over your heart
a reminder that you do love yourself and this is why
even now
you can still love them in all their vulnerable, defensive humanity
with all their glaciers and lava-flows
you have learned that your own icebergs
and deep-sea eruptions
are so much bigger below the surface

Remember, it is not vanity to love yourself enough to leave.

Marie Metaphor Specht is a multidisciplinary artist and poet living on the traditional territories of the Lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples, (Victoria, BC). Marie’s poetry has been published in a number of anthologies and journals in print and online including Room magazine, The Chestnut Review and Brickyard (Brickbooks). Marie’s work leads with compassion as she endeavours to create moments of intimacy, tapping into art’s unique ability to breed empathy and connection among diverse individuals and communities.