I was seventeen before I tasted wine.
Ours was dandelion heads on verges,
fingers stained tobacco-brown at school.
Add Yorkshire tea dregs, citrus fruit, sultanas,
floating under grey-mould crust, the smell
of yeast from plastic buckets in the larder.
Choirs of bleep jars on my father’s wardrobe,
bottles in the cupboard out the back.
I tried to be the perfect, home-made wife,
transcribed my mother’s recipes
from marble-boarded pages stained with juice,
bought more fermentation jars and tubes.
On my divorce I emptied every bottle
down the sink. The kitchen smelled of childhood.
When Dad has be-bopped with his son,
danced ‘come on, come on, do
the Locomotion’ with his beautiful,
beautiful, given-away daughter;
when the trestles have been emptied,
guests drifted off down the lawn
and a lilac fascinator lies unloved
beneath a table; when the mother
of the bride has lost her shoes
and reunited friends don’t want to leave;
when, as if it’s the last time, the bride
has danced with her flower girls, hugging
and laughing with tears in their eyes,
and the last vintage bus is about to depart;
there, beneath an invisible fault-line in time,
the bridegroom winds his skinny arms
around his friends, their fair heads close
as wheat sheaves, reluctant to rip apart;
that’s when a dozen Chinese lanterns
dance in a bright, new constellation.
I can recommend divorce
I absobloodylutely love my single life.
I’ve started eyeing architects in corduroys,
those men who wear red beaten chinos,
men with beards and no commitment.
No one gives a damn if I eat meat
or finish off a box of biscuits.
I can choose the colour of my walls
and hang my paintings in the bathroom
far too close together.
Friends said ‘you’ll have time to do
those things you always wanted to’.
I’m fairly sure I always have. So now
I seek out small adventures on my own,
and sometimes, only sometimes
I can absobloodylutely understand
the purpose of a husband.
Kathy Gee works in museums and heritage in the UK. Since 2011 some fifty of her poems have been accepted by print and online magazines. Her first collection – Book of Bones – will be published by V. Press in 2016.