The neighbours are arguing about the stars
whether it is, or isn’t, Orion’s Belt.
I’m lying in the total dark in the new house
with the Artex, the serving hatch,
the symmetrical windows we both loved.
A hand on my tummy scanning for a signal.
A hand on my breast pressing for tenderness,
pushing harder into sleep. It’s happening again —
I rev its engine, but the day won’t start.
I see your shadow on the landing, telling me
it’s time now. You lounge on the counter,
I rinse the mugs, you chatter at the sparrows
nesting in our gutters, dipping to the borders,
calling to each other. Coffee on the sofa
with a space between us and you always fill it.
Tell me you’re not a motor that runs on love.
My body is a taxi – it gets me to the office,
to Asda, to mum’s house. I put cat food
in my trolley, pizza in my mouth. I laugh,
answer yes or no. All we talk about is you —
your white belly fur, those tiny incisors,
the way you supervise the pigeons,
nose the sparrow yolk crusted on the patio.
LAUREN GARLAND lives in North West England. She was the recipient of the 2021 Peggy Poole Award. She is the author of Darling (Broken Sleep Books, 2020).