Long walks in the dark and handsome
Felt warmer than I wanted to, perched
on a plank bench, doubted my outfit,
said I think your phone’s ringing, because
it had been, in her bag, next to me, for ages.
She smiled, blinked slowly and said ignore it ,
but it made my right leg fizz.
All that was left in the pitchers had gone
flat and bitter by the time she told us
no really, listen, shut up a second,
listen, her ideal partner would always
have to have a good sense of humour
in bed. Everyone paused before laughing
for ages, hard enough to make me feel
quite sick, it was like she’d run out
of words in her lonely hearts limit,
like she’d skipped a crucial bit,
and furthermore it was also like
we’d forgotten ourselves, our own
leaking boats for the moment, bobbing
along, alone, bailing out let downs
from heaving cleavages, spluttering,
straining to keep our valves from filling,
our thrown back heads afloat.
A rat scuttled across the decking behind us
as this was happening.
She laughed too, I suspect to prove
that she knew comedy when she saw it.
She caught the barman’s eye as he stepped out
for a smoke. I had two false starts with a story
but it was relevant, they’d have loved it
if they’d not been hearing a load of old rot
about mixology. And maybe she was snubbing me
deliberately, for chuckling so goddamn much.
I know I’ll look well, like seaweed looks
in water, one day, when I’m not even
in water any more. She had bright
blonde hair and a boob tube, ribcage
plain as the nose on her face.
I remember we were screaming, really,
but that was because of the rat.
LILY BLACKSELL’s pamphlet There’s No Such Thing (ignition press) was published in 2018. She has an MFA in poetry from Columbia University, where she was a teaching fellow. She lives and works in London.