After identifying your body
We stagger into the cavernous dark
of a pub, weekday afternoon,
stale with beer and grease.
I watch the smoke curl up
from your mother’s lips,
spiralling into light,
we drink I don’t know what.
If you were here we’d be playing pool,
songs lined up on the jukebox,
drinks lined up on the bar,
the blue dust of cue chalk
powdering our hands.
But this day is slow motion
and even though the sun glosses the grass
on Midsummer Common to a slick green foil
and the Cam shivers,
its dark body pinpricked with light,
I am somewhere else:
I am in the boat with the crew
rowing away from here as fast as I can.
And later I am sleeping
with a dog in a pub doorway
my mouth sewn up with red thread,
your name tattooed across my face.
Like a flower when the first frost comes –
she is shut up tight, pressed into herself,
her ears are full of ringing phones
and raised voices: a curtain of sound,
while her own mouth emits
a series of beeps and whistles.
In between meals she watches the baby,
trying hard to understand it,
its arms and legs move jerkily
and its mouth howls open.
She can’t distinguish friendly faces, can’t be sure
if real life exists within the room or outside it,
the bed has wheels –
it drives her away while she is sleeping.
The first cut lifts a flap of skin above your ribs,
I admire the brightness of your blood,
the intricacies of bone and muscle,
your spaghetti-junction of arteries,
and probing deeper I find organs
snugly nestled against one another,
lift out the squarish bulk of your heart
and lay it on the kitchen table,
then stand back to admire my work,
it is mine now – this bloody prize
that you could never bring yourself to give me,
I fetch some fishing line and a darning needle
and carefully sew you closed.
Julia Webb is a compulsive writer. She has an MA in Poetry from the University of East Anglia. She lives in Norwich where she teaches creative writing in the community and runs Norwich Stanza and a poetry book group. She is a poetry editor for Lighthouse Literary Journal. Her first collection Bird Sisters will be published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.