Monthly Archives: April 2014

On approaching the pivot

The local playground has a painted square
Worn a little by precipitation but clear still
In pinks and yellows
Inside are smaller squares numbered
1 to 100

I stand on 35 as instructed
By my son, his impish grin
Telegraphs his next line
He stands on 4, like a soldier
Ear cocked as if searching
For a command to obey

“How old will you be when I’m 35?”

I answer him accurately and he is satisfied

He knows of death,
And initial fears, nocturnal traumas and some small anger
Have been placated with talk of an afterlife
That I do not conceive of, but better for it to be unlearned later

Feeling close to the pivot myself
With more years passed than I can reasonably assume remain
The square gives me succour
For looking upwards I see
Dinner parties on 43, too much vino and spouting of detail
Taking up jogging at 52, putting it swiftly down again at 52 ½
Gathering grandchildren in 60s

And I barely notice him pinball gleefully across the board
Until he stands on 97

“How old will you be when I’m 97?”

“128”, I reply, and he laughs all guttural
This is our endgame

Reminded as if upon seeing a pile of broken bricks
That nothing will stand for always


Untitled #101

You used the wrong pot
Of aqueous cream, that’s the one
We use on the cat to clear her eczema
Did you not notice the ginger hairs?

Do you think these things get better by magic?
That there’s a travelling apothecary
Who brings vials and poultices and pills
In your head he’ll be a mystical apothecary, rather than a regular guy with an established supply chain, natch

Still you think the larder gets filled by some instantaneous finger click
Always at the omission of something that you wanted, but which you hadn’t told anyone else that you required
The housework fairy is not a clairvoyant, but yes she can move things by telekinesis like a Hoover across a carpet or empty packets from the arm of the chair into a bin

No I don’t think the hairs will do you any harm
Yes you will die, some day of some thing, but it is unlikely to be as a result of cat hair contamination

Four favours

saw her in a bar
on Upper Street
a favour:
can I be cheeky
and pinch a cigarette?
the packet smiles
a small spark, then small talk
and we are knowing each other
gradually, in small bursts
smoke flutes to a jaundiced ceiling
words fall on open ears

I am out of cash, out of bounds
a second favour:
do you know any other bars
with en-face cashpoint?
she senses
and we are gone, to black lines
through tunnels to caverns
in subterranea
we sink drinks
discover much in common

but now it’s late
and I don’t know this place
half as well
as I do her
another favour:
is there a night bus
a place to get a reputable taxi?
now she laughs
tongue betrayed by aniseed
and we roll to her pad
hollow chintz and plastered rental
the spare room is made
and remains so

next morning
push my hair nervously
hide my legs
her cardigan arms folded
the door easily marked
here’s my e-mail address
informally rebuff me sometime
leave my Inbox (0)
and I taste her
on the central line

soon forgotten
but one day
in between football fixtures and discount CDs
Inbox (1)
I open the attachment
“Ruth 020 7527 2610
For favours”