Poetry: The Thoughts Between the Pillows (After Colin Tan)

I believe this poem is what they are calling an “After”, where you read someone’s poem and write about the thoughts it triggers. I saw the poem earlier this year and began reflecting on it. The whole poem was great, but the last line left me feeling chills and the idea of a verse in the poem led to me thinking about “the space between the pillows”. As I’ve healed from my marriage and divorce, the decisions we both made, and the life we lived together, it’s taken a lot of reflection. Much of that reflection happens in the nighttime hours when the house is quiet. That is also a dangerous time of night because it’s when you suddenly realize how alone you are. The space between what was and what is, what could be and what will be, becomes so much clearer… and emptier. So I wrote about the thoughts that came to me, thinking back to when I was within those first years of divorce and just starting to see my reflection again and like it.

Be sure to read Colin’s poem below. By clicking on the IG post, you will be able to read the text in the caption. Then support him by purchasing his first book, “The Man Who Ate My Arms” before his next one is released!


That space between their 20-year-old selves who lusted after one another with fervor,

and their 30-year-old selves who didn’t like each other much.

That space between falling madly in lust over drinks with friends,

and looking across the table to see the person they detested most.

That space between the abuser finding power in always being in control,

and the victim no longer wanting to wear the label.

That space between believing the crocodile tears that came after every argument,

and the verbal punches no longer carrying the same weight because they were lost somewhere between the kicks and hair pulling.

That space between looking at each other and not being able to wait to get home,

and not wanting to go home because of the reality that existed there.

That space between him pulling out of the driveway for the last time,

and when she realized she didn’t who she was with so much space between them.

That space between daytime when all is busy and alive,

and the dead of night when all is quiet and she only has the thoughts between the pillows.


Follow Colin on Instagram.


Buy Colin’s first book of poetry and prose.

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