Sunkissed

The smallest cluster

Of brown black

In an uneven smudge

At the left of my knee

Down a little

This marking

Etched into my skin

Could create a cloud

Of fog across my body

And make me sick

And it makes me sick

To see you sit

In that selfish sun

To burn and blister

That perfect body

To let your flesh turn

White to pink

And then to coffee stain

Whilst I lay here

Out of sight

To protect my already

Collapsing frame

Preserve some skin left

Not yet stretched

To fill the holes

As you stretch

Your ‘perfect tan’

Across sun lounger

And in every photo

You look good

With that bronze haze

And everyone stares at you

And say ‘You’re glowing’

And I look up

To watch the backs of their heads

A girl looking at a boy looking at a girl

I spent an hour awake

tired out of my own sick mind

trying to find a moment

when this body

this infection

living on my bitter brain

(the same as his

might I say)

when this

‘tired of your eyes’

skin tight frame

wasn’t treated like meat

offal and blood beat

a pulp

spat and secreted

I try and imagine a moment

when there won’t be someone

who would find me appetising

want to bite or tear

and consume me

from child to mother to old age

in and between

every centimetre of life

and it’s sort of funny

suffocating

body rid of air

or worse

purpose

when you realise

you’ll never not see that glare

side eyed stare

at my skin

my pink speckled flesh

gross and unloved

but still makes him salivate

pleading for more

there isn’t a time

I’m afraid

when I am not there to ingest

And it all comes back to him

looking at me

a girl looking at a boy looking at a girl

Guilty until proven guilty

Take my phone

Tell me I’m lying

Read my

‘Are you out tonight?’

And his

‘Yes, let’s meet up’

And then the gap between it all

When we were two normal students

Too normal

For that

And then the bit between then and now

The bit you care about

That bit

When my sunken eyes

Drunken eyes

Dried out

And my body bent

Inwards outwards

And my shoulder blade

Became the only memory

Of an almost forgotten night

And after that

He takes my phone and texts himself

Maybe to protect himself?

Show me he is not who he is

Show Vera more like

The Stump

It’s 7 am

And the shallow sun

Makes waves

between the clouds

And wakes me

I go to the place

That rests above the ripples

Below a sudden bolt

Of breeze

It breaks green

And takes a stone

To form something

That once was

And he is here too

Looking out

In his favourite place

And we watch

The kayaks together

Making shapes

In the unfamiliar silence

He holds my hand

My fingers tucked under

And his wrapped around

We have a name for this

All of this

We have a name for all of this

Out of the bloom

It’s another hot morning

Sweat sits neatly

On the inside of my wrists

Wets my cuffs

And cools me

I’ve taken some time out

You see

From that town

To this country retreat

Where my body is supposed to breathe

I think it’s working?

Because my mind is in one place

Tapping to the beat

Of breakfast jazz

And it all comes together

For one short weekend

Out of the bloom

Monday to Friday

First you find a moment

To pause for 40 minutes

Relax your body

Drop your weight a little lower

Below your waist

Your blubber resting on your hips

At ease with yourself

And as we set off

Everyone stiffens a little

To avoid touching

Or seeing

You reach up

Hand in cough

Or sneeze

Or something far worse

Until the red light

And a voice that tells you

We’re taking a break

So you bend your elbow

And wait

Until it begins again

35 minutes to go

New Porn

Ice cream girls

On scrollers

Sliding down the screen

In little to nothing

This is the new porn

They warned us about

After paper things

Paper bodies

Glossy pages

And retro settings

Petrol stained girls against bikes

And bunnies

For some reason

Are made sexy?

And it’s all there

On your screen

No sneaking around

Or deleted history

This is yours now

This new porn

People asleep on the tube

Monday

A suited man with wispy hair

Gets on at Bond Street

He collapses next to larger woman who makes him look childlike

Another man, who keeps opening his eyes

To pretend he isn’t tired

Telling me? Or him?

And him too, two seats down

Inspired by the others

Tuesday

Face pressed against glass separator

With those ear buds in

What are they listening to?

Posh boy copies

Or tries to

But gets frightened by his own reflection

Worried I’m watching (I am)

So he readjusts himself

A slight woman

Rests her head against a bigger load

And drifts off

Wednesday

He smiles when he sleeps

I bet someone loves that about him

And then my own

Who met me after work

And now sleeps his way

Into my poem

Thursday

There are too many people

Too close

To s(l)ee(p)

Friday

Today it’s me

Half-drunk and restless

Dreaming of clean cotton sheets