You can get used to a certain kind of loneliness

Angeliki Ampelogianni

Twelve years old and hiding in the school toilets.

The bell that signals the break between classes

a sentence to this silence, the smell of shit and piss,

no hand soap again, to wash away the dirt, the chalk.

Eating chocolate stuffed biscuits behind the closed

door, painted an acrylic blue. The turkish toilet, a hole

two inches away from your feet. You count and count

the minutes, the hours. Two hours and fourty minutes

until you can go. Three minutes and twenty seconds

to reach your front door and lock it behind you.

Sixteen years old and you’re walking into the nightclub,

the diet coke bouncing loud in your hand. The glass

sweating in this heat of bodies and music and lights

and bodies and powder and smoke and more bodies.

The red skirt is too short, you have to keep pulling it down.

Nine hours in an overcrowded bus will get you home,

but not soon, not soon enough. Still two more days

of pretending you have friends, pretending you are one

of them. Three girls in a bed and you the last to fall asleep.

The second night, someone else has taken your place,

so you walk the corridors of a hotel bursting with teenage

colours. Perhaps, being alive is not for you after all.

Twenty years old and you thought you’d have it all

figured out by now. Twenty years old and you’ve lost

the ability to sleep. Counting days, counting grades,

counting bones, counting weights. No need to hide

in school toilets anymore. Sitting alone is more acceptable

as you grow older. Will you grow older? Will this

silence grow with you? This absence of bodies

among the bodies that surround you. No one is ever

truly here and you’re fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine.

This absence is familiar now. This silence is all you have. Fine.

Angeliki Ampelogianni is a poet from Athens, Greece. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University, and a BA in English Literature from the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens. She is currently based in Oxford, living with her favourite human, who is always a great source of inspiration. Her poetry and translations have been published or are forthcoming in the Kindling Journal, Nectar Poetry, Porridge Magazine, Harana Poetry and Poetry London among others. When she is not writing, she is fantasizing about long days spent in the August Greek seas, and consuming too much decaf coffee. Angeliki tweets @ampelogianni.