Pet

She’d insisted her father meet her outside in the car park, because he’d make a big deal of it, and she didn’t want the others to see. She knew, before it happened, how it would go.

He’d be stood up. He’d have arrived too early. He’d be waiting, in the same make of tan suede loafers he’d worn every weekend since she could remember, arms outstretched, pinning a wobbling smile to his face. He’d sob into her hair. He’d take big, heaving breaths of relief and there would be surging emotion that he himself probably wouldn’t understand. His cheeks would be wet and, because it was a Sunday, he wouldn’t have shaved, so his beard would scrape against her face. She dreaded the performance of it, and felt ashamed to dread such love.

As it turned out, because she was still a hair’s breadth off eighteen, they wouldn’t release her without the presence of a nominated guardian, so he met her in the reception. He needed to sign for her, like a package – a fragile one he’d strap into the front seat of the Volvo, and hold fast as he turned sharp corners.

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The Fall

The sun shone, though the day was far from warm. As she’d sat, waiting for him, the first few flakes of snow had fallen. It had seemed strange to see it happen, in the sunlight, and they had come down so slowly that, at first, she hadn’t been sure it was snow at all, so fragile was the offering that it looked to her more like debris. Ash. Like the aftermath of some great fire.

Sorry I’m late. The fucking dog’s been driving me mental. She’s in heat.

He’d been scowling into the cold air, as she’d watched him round the corner past the chemist, and the lines on his forehead had not yet settled back into his face. She thought he looked tired and irritable, and the possibility of being punished by one of his foul moods had spurred in her a desire to keep the walk brief, or to avoid it altogether. Disappointment hit her in the stomach, and she began thinking of an out. Fake a phone call. Feign a limp. But it wasn’t long before he was smirking at her, dancing on the spot to keep warm, and she found herself smirking back. Once again, the open morning seemed to roll out before them, like a bolt of gold fabric. 

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Cache

sometimes it feels stuck to the back of my chest
as if it has caught one of its many blue threads
on the door handle of a room I’ve just left

sometimes it feels still, and lurks like a mad ghost
cursing its haunt in the long well of my throat
as I am trying to speak gently to it

sometimes it feels hard. It tightens with each thump
and one day I will not be able to wriggle even my
littlest finger inside it

a red knot
I can’t unpick

Painting the kitchen in your new flat

it’s one of those nights 
when we decide to give in 
and sack off the cleanse –
two friends 
with enough rum to feel
sore tomorrow

you’ve still got paint on
from where you’ve touched
your forehead and cheek –
it’s midweek
it cracks when you laugh
and drink

I remember you as you were 
when we’d stay up smoking
wiping a CD on your jeans –
just fifteen 
we’d talk about where we’d 
go together

doesn’t tonight feel almost like those
and still not quite the same as before
when we’d sit, sentries of dawn –
and yawn
sleeping long past the birds and
the sun

I ask if it’ll ever be like it was 
when we were kids, and you 
smile and don’t say a lot –
probably not 
then we laugh and we don’t 
know why

and now it’s one of those nights
when we sit and remember
and pretend we’re not blue –
it’ll do
but I’ll never forget being young
with you

The things we do for one another

in a lukewarm bath
with you perched 
on the side 
I watched as you 
scraped pink curls
off the soap 
before you told me
you needed a walk
and left
but before I heard
the latch I heard
your voice
on the phone
and I wondered if 
absent mindedly 
biting your nails
later that night 
you would taste 
that soap or if 
someone else might

Things you do for me

when you had that
big work do thing
the one where
you couldn’t bring
anyone because it
would be weird
I sent you a photo
when I was
a bit drunk
just for you
just of me on the
sofa with the cat
and later on
that night as
we finished the rum
you had half inched
from the bar
I asked you why
you didn’t respond
to my messages
and you stroked my
legs propped up
on your legs and you
finished the rest
of your drink off

don’t be weird
you said

Things I do for you

last autumn you told
me that Radiohead
were overrated
and then you
showed me some
new bands I should
really listen to but
only in this order
and did I know the
original line up for
that five piece no
one has ever heard
of and then you
smoked another
of my cigarettes
without asking and
blew the smoke
towards the window
before you put your
clothes back on and
I would have punched
you in your mouth
when you said it
if I could have
but you were
holding my right
hand at the time
so I couldn’t do it
but I wish I had now
because you never
hold my hands
anymore

Dumped

There’s no need to measure out –
paint-stripper, heel-tripper,
drink like there’s a drought.
Knocked back neat, forget that cheat:
tonight we’re going out.

Down the dregs and out the door –
liquor sweet, aching feet,
dance until they’re raw.
Then blow a gram, and phone your mam:
ninth tequila; floor.

Lights go up and stagger home –
kebab gnaw, slack jaw,
smell of old cologne.
Think you’re fine, but miss the swine:
fall asleep alone.