At times like this I’m pulled back
by the past. It gives me electric blue eyes
and hot-brushed hair, has me teeter
on white stilettos, clip-clopping up
the stairs after last orders at the pubs.
I pay my two quid on the door, hand in
my coat to a fat dragon in a grubby blouse
who’s blowing Woodbine down her nose.
Then I’m reeling under neon, white
underwear glowing blue like my gin.
Girls kiss boys in dingy corners, hands
grope in an orgy of tomorrow’s boasts and regrets.
Perhaps that’s where we all end up,
swaying to Spandau in the top floor room
of a small-town night club. A last dance
in the dark. A last chance to see whether
our costumes really hide the truth, if we can
cover up our youth with grown-up disguises.
And I wonder, when the lights come on,
will we recognise each other?
Note: The Waterfront was a nightclub in Skipton, popular in the eighties.
That Kind of Snow
You had wanted snow.
Though not the cruel cold of an Afghan winter,
that crept inside your sleeping bag
and froze the dampness in your socks.
There the snow fell suddenly,
on a landscape that you’d come to know,
turning it back into an enemy.
No, not that kind of snow. But
snow that falls here on our hills
and sprinkles tops of walls,
the kind of snow that whispers in the night,
sighing over streets and fields, stays for days,
to disappear in pools of slush.
Your snow lay thick on corrugated iron,
and on flimsy make-shift walls,
where you shivered in the dark,
waiting for a dawn that showed the scars
of conflict; the thief that took whole men
and sent them back in halves, or quarters.
You had wanted soft, expected snow,
the snow that falls in lanes and covers gardens,
where footprints are the proof of destination.
Something sticky’s on the mouse-pad
and an ex is on ‘chat’.
The icon that tells me when the battery is low
isn’t working. So I won’t know, until the screen fades –
probably just as I pluck up the courage to type hello.
The cat’s clawing at the wall
and he won’t stop until I throw a book at him,
or a pen, and then I’ll forget I’ve thrown it
till I need it again. So I let him scratch –
and he does, with a cat-smile; and tail high
and stretching, he lies down – on the keyboard.
The rain is starting again. I’m imprisoned
by a month that somebody should ban.
Too cynical to think about roses,
never mind expect them. I wonder
whether he’d have got me roses. Perhaps
I should ask before the battery dies.
Gill is a poet and trainee teacher from North Yorkshire. She draws her ideas from snatches of conversations and the world around her. Gill has been published by Indigo Dreams, The Interpreter’s House and Beautiful Dragons, among others.