i love hues, a colour poem for him

you came quietly into my world, sidling into the kitchen to put your arms around my waist
Ell, can I wash this? like we’d been married all our lives
five am not once but twice, you and me beside the surprise of the day
and that might be what I remember whenever wherever the sun breaks
over your cheeks, your ginger streaks –
two thousand and eight shades of summer –
but you should know I see the blue too,
two thousand five hundred and a handful nights later.

we have blended as we’ve grown, colours above and between like fingers ‘twixt fingers on knees
and I don’t love the green any less than those aureate days, those navy midnights
our treetop stretching up and out, branched and twigged but blessedly bound at the roots, sharing the same meals.

Nicholas Downs, if my heart for you is a tortoise shell
let every inch be inked with the gradient of our ascension
the angle of my floating when you speak my name.


play it safe by the water

please stop loving me.
I am scrabbling to leave anything at all,
to stop myself sucking you barren and beat,
and promise your boneframe intact and complete.
you’ve given your heartflesh as something to eat
but the salt I’d have left just wouldn’t be right.

[the sea in me might drown you too]

please stop loving me.
my rough edges have worn holes in your boat
and the waves will be in you soon,
with the cold and the dark and the gloom.
take your long arms and row against the moon –
there’s still time, if you start now.

[the sea in me will drown you too]

god, please stop loving me.
don’t call out, don’t question, don’t proffer
I can’t offer you anything but throatfuls of sand.
I pray in a language I don’t understand
I choke on your voice and your absence of hands –
if we speak I just won’t last the night.

curve: on the climax of a thin sheet of paper

complete, finished
I pause to feel the curve of you under my knuckles
curling in to guard what I have given you,
what we have shared.

in private I would bring you to my cheek,
where I bring all things that I love,
but the breeze is cool and I am hot under these lights;
bravely exposed in our impenetrable togetherness,
we are shielded behind cardboard and glass.

and though my hand aches and my tense mouth twitches
I am not ready to leave –
there is yet another curve in you,
and I intend to savour it.

a brief spell / close (loc.)

I found a stain on my wrist in the shape of your mouth
a perfect print that won’t leave
that even through a pool and a bath and a night in your sheets
and my cold morning shower and my busy dizzy day
will echo your hands on my face

a brief spell in tongues, a witch and a watermoon bear
the early grass as wet as our later lips
sending up little music prayers in Morse and murmurs.
with your cool breath and your fingers pushed between mine
you are exactly as soft as I dreamed.

we have stripped and soaped and redressed us tonight
and for weeks now we have known our curves to see:
still, I lie behind you
and learn them again from the light scratch of your nail
the seamed silk of your skin and my sides
I am gathering us in my fingertips as you pull me close

when your nose nudges mine I am part nerves, part peace
as if nothing could be safer or more wracking or more unsure:
but we breathe in halting, wine-happy time, 
your little breezes lick at my lashes
our waiting mouths move languid, unrushed.

then a switch, like you are split – strawberries and cream
tart on one and sugar sweet the other, these I have known –
but in the undeniably new you-ness of the pink streak between, 
in the barely seconds of your very bare caring for me
you ask if it’s okay; it is – uh – it is.

you hold my cheek like a ripe peach,
running your thumb down the crease to my lips,
pushing my chin aside.
when you bite down a broad sharpness swells over me
a sigh rises heavy under my ribs
my round belly warm under a moment of your palm

and as our hands are wandering I am too
how you could bruise my flesh and yet / and yet / and yet
be so near-shyly tender with the hearts on my sleeve?

then I giggle
and you smile

I kiss you
you apologise
I kiss you 
again, sweet
we stop
and go
and in the morning I know
that between your teeth and the tint 
of the gloss on your mouth
you have made your mark.

i and f

If you will speak to my belly, speak soft
and featherlight touch the skin unseen
to where black wire predicts a caesar in my stars –
a cross-stitch trail to traipse along.

Be gentle as you bare my belly:
I may beg your bracing for my shoulders and my throat
but here is a temple for sweetness alone.
In the field of our embodied battles
some things bear protecting, even from loving hands.

My years have laid snow upon snow on my mountain
and still shine through a crack or two;
a natural stretching, of course –
the ones from my own claws long since smoothed.

If you will speak to my belly, speak soft,
and do not wake the beast.
She rumbles a thousand voices, never all my own
but we could have a century of quiet tenderness
if we can speak soft, soft and softer still.

songs for evie: histories repeating / better together

one day when you are fourteen
you will come home from school and find me in the kitchen
sitting on the bench, crying, playing Indelible
and pour me wine while I finish.

when you hop up beside me
I will tell you that even now
when I love myself the most of so far –
that even today when I hear those lines –
I wonder how your dad could do it.
how could someone so beautiful / feel anything for me?

you’ll tell me that the girls in your class skipped lunch again today
and looked envyful at the sandwich
you so bravely stomached and enjoyed.
you’ll tell me you thought about joining them;
you don’t think you’re thin enough for Sam.

I’ll pour you a half-glass to match mine.
you’ll hold my hand.
we are reflected as we reflect:
your eyes in my own;
my face in the curve of your cheek.
we’ll sigh for an age together,
our accidental harmony each of courage and concern.

(I think we might spend our lives breathing our reminders:
it doesn’t go away,
it’s never just you,
how strong we are become.
as long as we keep. breathing.)

creature comforts

home is where the wine is
where your key fits and so do your comfiest pants
bubbles in glasses and bubbles in baths
your favourite record already under the cover

you can park your car and do your homework anywhere
drop your bra or your dacks in any damp change room
rack your knife and fork at Nandos and mop your plate with your roll

honey, home is giant jenga with your bodies and your blocks
fairy lights and cat fur and french toast toasties –
the place you put your book down when you’re done.

my neverendings on this First

it is in the nature I have nurtured to love like April rain
fat and heavy and all at once
and I am proud to fall thus in spite of my fear
at your dusty feet murmuring the praises I have for you

I could put it away if it frightens you
but it’s not gone, just looking the other way
the dark side of my mooning, unkissed by the days we meet

I think I could hold it indefinite as long as you
knowing I will churn and chuckle waves behind my teeth
bubble and foam my fondness for ever
in all of our every lives.

lockett and keays

I made you so beautiful and I could never live
holding you up like a carrot for my own flesh
I said you looked like me but I lied and lied and here lying secretly
so long since in my own skin,
I know how perfectly different you were
and how all my wishing wouldn’t will away our divergence.

your wine-rich voice and my late-night silent whining
pining to be the dream I drew you in
I cleared your playlist but I still can’t sing
without wanting to weep for you.

I carried and cursed you and just like they said
you made me threefold in return
my endless regret that I made and gave everything
to a masquerade pearl
as mad as I was powerless in the web.

(it’s true that sometimes I smell him, milk and powder, but
you have to hear him crying for ever –
I’m sorry.
my guilt may be misguided but misuse has left fault-lines on my mind.

in the quiet of my rubbed-rosemary, twenty-twelve, rue-aching,
pretending to clean but intending to punish,
I salt my own wounds in your memory.)