To The QueenTo the queen.
I give you every first and final toast:
When my upper lip flinches over wine
at wholesome parties
or at quiet meals over the steam of gravy
or tongue sucking flat beer in the garden
or the burn nip of sloe gin on the field,
or on lounge carpets
or the bar cackled binge,
gambling truths for sick-sweet boozes with my friends.
I give you the tips of my money nubbing thumbs,
the insides of my purses, pockets, dash trays, boxes
for your commerce and your metal jowls.
I exchange you, and let you sneak
into the rubber foot-mats of my car.
I give you the journey of my letters and my tongue:
Your head presiding over billings paid,
or regal reverences or thanks
or notes and hopes in secret code
or the tawdry jokes in lemon ink.
I give you my pillow thoughts
as both of us rest our curls.
I give you my lover’s body
piece by piece
on the chopping block of war.
(His heart was always yours)
He and I:
though that we live to warm each other,
wait, in crumpled covers,
in theatres or in homes,
in churchyards or gardens
or the back rows of cinemas
or the cabbage scented kitchen
or the dim corners of restaurants
to know you better and to serve you well.
I give you my future.
I arch by night and always
our duty seeds
in all these honourable actions we make:
The investiture of kisses, half tipped
like shallow bowls of blood
to your supreme governance.
It is in our wine and inheritance,
this identifying wish to bend our knees.
I give you my body so to sow,
inside imperfect furrows, England.
I give you the envy of its future daughters
and the fervour of its future sons.
I give you a dream that was a queen, and pavilions
and coloured rice, and apple crumble
varnished tight onto the hull
of our figurative order.
And esteem, such as any woman can esteem another.
I give you the tiniest curled strands at the nape of my neck.