Peacock Blues

It was a time of velvet love,
revolution and Snakebite.
My mother gave me beige
polo necks and warned
of the dangers of touching.
My summer job yielded
a red dress from Bus Stop
with a plunging neckline
and a scalloped hem that swirled
when I twirled to Bowie and Bolan
alone in my room, rehearsing
my poses with a feather boa.

I met him on the landing of a cold
terraced in Queensbury, queuing
for the loo and giddy with homebrew.
He pretended to take my picture
with an imaginary camera, squinting
and clicking his tongue. You look like
what’s her name from Pan’s People,
he said as he kissed my neck. He wore
a peacock feather in his blonde locks
and a guitar with a tartan strap. His lips
were curvaceous like Bryan Ferry’s.
He called himself Fritz and a pacifist.

My mother was ironing father’s
socks, underpants and cotton shirts
when I got in, the steam clouding
the kitchen with a choking mist.
She didn’t look up when I gave her
the peacock feather. It’s pretty, I said.
Some call it the evil eye, she replied.
Next day it was tucked behind her
gilded wedding photo on the shelf
with the candles and the broken clock.

 

 

E3808292-4820-44BB-8C2E-35ADA9A2CBB8

 

 

Closure

Time and lavender do not heal
your marks like a signature at my door.

My plastic skin splits beneath flaking
layers of paint. Wind and rain penetrate

my openings. No one hears the alarm
and soon decay sets in. The floor

sags underfoot, the walls are festooned
with festive mildew. What goes around

comes around. Time is a serpent biting
its tail, a palimpsest. If I close my eyes

real tight I see you running, a flash
of orange on green, a broken traffic light.

 

3E686330-BEB3-4F69-BC91-90B70AE74EED
Photographic image created by the author.

 

Fry’s Chocolate Cream

The boy in the next bed was dying
of a disease with a fine French name.
No fruit, no flowers, no cards
wishing at his side. He had freckles,
curly hair the colour of coal tar soap
and Dr Barnardo’s for a home.

We strayed, whenever nurses looked away,
used Fagin skills to pry Fry’s Chocolate Cream
from the vending machine in Admissions.
The boy leaning on the push
handles of my wheelchair, dragging
numbed feet, sometimes losing a slipper.

At night the pain came stealing.
The boy, a brittle whisper
crept into my bed and I held him
close, close as skin,
nose to nose, forbidden
mint breath clinging.

 

 

B255F864-E07E-449D-B6A6-B04530DFC2A8
Photographic image created by the author

 

My First Lobster

My lover brought me a lobster

fresh from The Pentland Firth.

My lover wove the creel, steered the boat,

laid the trap, hauled the rope,

boiled the catch.

 

The lobster was beautiful,

pink naked in newspaper.

My lover said, the best is in the tail.

I tore the claws and knuckles, butter sticky,

sucking, licking, probing, splitting,

searching soft white meat.

 

Afterwards,

shell broken, belly filled with seawater

I dreamed of the ocean floor

and my lover waiting.

 

5A8E6633-AFB3-4665-A8A3-1F48511C6B52
Photo of Dunbeath harbour by the author

The Secret Admirer

Another morning and another perfect rose splashed

scarlet across Jane’s doorstep from a cloudless blue sky.

 

Such a cliche, hissed her sister through gritted teeth

as yet another infant bit down on her teat.

 

Jane smiled as she sliced lemons for the Earl Grey

and planned yet another glass vase from Habitat.

 

The petals faded and flaked like old newspaper.

When they found her she was lying on a bed of thorns.

 

 

D5EE6F46-DE18-4B92-9D64-3870A8B15469
Photograph by the author