All entries for Wednesday 25 January 2006

January 25, 2006

Saturday's Dream

The Living Gifts

J and I have similar eyes for the
shelves of Christmas gifts.

“ You’re permitted to look at them, sometimes to touch.
You’re certainly never to sniff. ”

I whisper, “ Stepmother? You know, J is my lover?
If we stay here in Harvey Nick’s
I’m afraid we’ll find that he may lose his mind.
Look- his cheekbones are starting to twitch.”

So of course she slips in the next morning
disguised as her thin-wristed maid
to discover our ribboned, odourless gifts
and our bed on the floor, unmade.

“Ahem. Mistress says to remind you
that it’s coming on half past one.
They’ve driven past scenery. They’ve met Mussolini.
You’ve slept through all of the fun.”

J and I have similar eyes for the
carefully closed door.
Left to ourselves with no gift-laden shelves
we do what we were doing before.

But the windows are quietly expanding.
The ways of the Pennines shine in.
Against glass, we say “ If she’d vanish today
we’d be out there running, running! ”

The maid is here in our room
and J has grabbed hold of my hand.
There’s carpet beneath my travelling feet
then warm, soft sand.

We dive into the water
Into colourful fishes that sing
Little ones nip at our opening lips
Fat ones glide past our skin

“ This sea is not green
This sea is not blue
or Cupid, dancing on e
This sea is not him, or J, or you
This sea is not one but three ”

I splutter up to the surface light
On the waves is a hazardous fleet.
Sixteen oriental catamarans with
fluttering parakeets.

Diving under the ornate boats
as slick as a joyful otter –
I know it’s J by the sanguine way
he dodges the oars in the water

“ This sea is not green
This sea is not blue
or Clyde, trawling for Bonny
This sea is not him, or J, or you
This sea is not one but three ”

I follow. I dive. I just stay alive
through a maze of patterned oars.
Then deeply I swim with a wide, pearly grin
much colder than before.

“ This sea is not green
This sea is not blue
or flashing with Snow White’s keys,
This sea is not you or you or you
and you are not I or Me ”

She opens her eyes to the smell of perfume
She’s been waiting her turn, in a cue
She must have dozed off. It’s a dusty old room.
At least there’s an ocean view.

“I’m going to dance the Rumba,
with apricots in my ears.”
She finds herself staring into the eyes
of a long forgotten peer.

“Tell me- what’s your song? and what do you think:
blue lip gloss or green?”
It smells of pepper. Our swimmer remembers
the horror of the scene.

“You mustn’t dance! You mustn’t sing!
Stop twirling! Don’t you see?
She’s been given enormous olives, un-stuffed,
by a giant from Italy! ”

She turns her sparkling cheek to the line.
“I don’t believe you” Her tear runs by
and changes colour. As it bleeds
“ I don’t believe you” both her eyes
are gushing blood. As she staggers aside

it spurts at a red-head, doing the splits.
She topples onto her fluffy tits.
Their singing falters. They stop and stare.
They look into their handbags. What’s in there?

They pull out their phones. Flash! Flash! as she bleeds.
Identical photos on Nokia screens.
They look- their mouths open. Their eyes grow wide.
Screams hang on tight-ropes, silent inside.

They lift up their phones. Flash! in their own eyes
and run with their pictures in front of their faces,
abandoning their cue for Caucus races.

The Stepmother’s footsteps are shaking the floor,
our heroine grabs at two hands.
There’s carpet beneath their travelling feet
then warm, soft sand.

She shuts the door, tight. They run down the beach
to a dip in the warm, soft ground.
The surge of the depths with their mingling breath
and a curious, whistling sound.

“ This sea is not green
This sea is not blue
or Swarming with John Donne’s fleas
I’m not Chang or his motley crew
but a monkey, dreaming of thee ”

Beaming out of a patterned canoe
in oriental array,
with gel in his hair and eating a pear
and singing a bit – is J

J and I have similar eyes for the
whimpering circus girls.
I let go of their hands to sprint through the sand.
He kisses my wrist like an Earl.

“ Just what have you been doing, then? ”
He gives me a bite of his pear.

“Oh, I met a captain. He asked me on board
for his party. I thought you were there-

I stole you some brandy. ” I cradle the gift,
laughing, and tip it back.
It smells of orchids and sticky tar.
He throws me his pirate hat.


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  • Nice to see these poems again, Niki. I really enjoyed reading them last year. by on this entry
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