Slowly she’s started clearing things out
starting with the useless items:
chipped china cups,
trust shot-through with hairline cracks,
orphaned plugs and fuse wire,
cupboards full of arguments,
the broken stereos
he’d planned to resurrect.
And then there are the things
she’d like to keep
but knows she’ll never use:
those bright, rich nights
that no longer fit,
the creaking songs
of the bed frame
now dull and flat
and out of key,
the sugared lovers’ lingo
that has settled like cobwebs
in the corners of the room.
And love, what’s left of it,
she boils up the bones,
flavours the vapid broth
with stock and spice,
sets up a soup shack
on the ragged edge of town
and serves it to the homeless,
the hungry, the loveless creatures
of the night.
I’ve wept on them, wished on them,
prayed on them so many times
but nothing’s come of these little acts of faith
and I’m giving up.
I’m putting your skinny Jesus feet
in the top drawer of the freezer,
squeezing them in between the oven chips
and the frozen garden peas.
Elsewhere you are someone else’s salvation
and you are working miracles.
You are driving her to important meetings.
You are baking stylish golden loaves of bread.
You are turning her bathwater into good red wine.
You are putting up shelves.
You are curing her worries.
You are saying her name with meaning.
You are coaxing the tensions out of her spine.
I’d be happy with half a miracle,
something close to a blessing,
a tender visitation
but I’m tired
of all these late night vigils
with the kettle ready to be boiled
and the tea bag ready in your cup
and our bed laundered, scented
and ready to be filled
so I’m replacing my hope
with a lack of expectation.
the technicolor image of your face
with the faded, dog-eared poster
of an unimportant saint.
had tins full of prayer tags
and soft Garibaldi biscuits.
She kept gossip like hymn sheets
folded into the back
of her breeze-block bible,
kept a row of icons
above her fireplace
with garish hearts
like rotting plums,
reserved the best bone china
for priests, saints
and other visitations.
If you were lucky, upon leaving
you’d be blessed with a dry kiss
pressed upon the brow,
otherwise you’d leave
drenched in a frenzy of spit,
Hail Mary’s and Holy water.
You said I’d done quite well,
made a good impression
but I could tell by the way
she edged her way
around my name
and how damp I was
when we said goodbye
that she thought
I’d burn in Hell.
He could charm the poison out of fox gloves
and used his skills to quicken my heart.
I wondered what he fed on: frayed liturgies
and the secret dreams of women,
toxic spores translated into messages
of lust, slivers of the dank March sky
rolled up like pickled herring.
I never knew. He always skimmed me,
left me hooked on some potent pollen,
some sacrificial line,
some cold gap between sentiments.
His fingers were like cathedrals,
too big to untie my delicate knots
yet he knew me inside out like he knew
the names of flowers and bats and clouds,
like he knew how to throw daggers
without skewering the soul.
He could sniff out creeping wolf-men
and crack their backbones with a lazy wink,
worked my fingers to his throat
like a snake charmer,
made me slide and arch with his singing breath.
After we’d loved and I was doped up on glow
he laid wet silver on my eyelids
believing it would bring him luck.