I never spoke about the naked man in Castle Street (number 32).
I’d only seen him through the door’s thick-frosted glass, but still I knew
he knew that I knew he was willingly and wittingly undressed.
His was the last house on my round. He took the Western Daily Press.
In the quiet half-light of a school day dawn, my black-inked hands
would slip each morning’s tidings through the gilded slot to land
at his imperial pink feet. Only someone posh could be so rude.
No-one from Hamble Close would fetch their paper in the nude.
for that infers
a rougher splitting
of the skin.
‘Raw’ is closer
but not right.
What I mean is
which blows its
icy kisses still
on winter days
of walks to school
that patch of skin
on inner thigh
between short skirt
and knee-high sock—
a crimson, coarse-grade agony
a throbbing shade of pain
one in leggings
one in jogging bottoms
She’s weighed herself again.
She’s six stone three and finds this
satisfactory. Tonight she’ll have
two eggs (hardboiled),
one orange and a cup of tea.
Midsummer and she’s sitting on
the college lawn, a notepad on her knee.
He’s told them to: Enjoy the sun.
Write anything. Come back at four.
But she can’t write at all.
The page gapes like an empty plate.
She tries to calculate the calories in birdsong,
the fat and carbohydrate in a flower.
She watches as her shadow on the ground
grows more obese with every passing hour.
Annie Fisher is a storyteller and a member of Taunton’s Fire River Poets. Her pamphlet Infinite in All Perfections was published by HappenStance in November 2016.