This is an awkward thought to think
Skin to inhabit
The other woman’s
She had a date with you there
that place where only men and women go
No children welcome.
And there I was
the one left behind
While you went on your jaunts
you told me so earnestly
But that was untrue –
You had been there,
just not on your own
Are you a poet, he asked
I suppose I am, of sorts
Tell me your name, you look familiar
I do and he says I knew it I remember now
I know you
To say I was surprised is an understatement
But as the evening wore on
That is what everyone tells each other
A kind of false flattery
No one means any of it
I leave the function early and go home
To my real life, my real love
Last weekend we’d gone to an art fair in Chelsea followed by a film – the hard-hitting Ken Loach offering which had wrung its inevitable emotional response from us both so that when we emerged we felt as though we’d been pummelled. The irony of where we’d come out onto was not lost on us either – we were in one of the richest boroughs of the country. Alexander had been telling me that at some provincial cinemas the film wasn’t showing this week despite it being its opening week because of the school half-term break. Not even in Ken Loach’s own town – what a cock up!
As we headed towards South Kensington station we walked past housing originally meant for those with modest means now very obviously housing a different stratum of society – the air of gentrification evident in the neat shrubbery, well-kept facades and expensive modes of transport ready to whisk the occupants to places of leisure and pleasure. Two American tourists stop to ask for directions and after we’d sent them along the right direction walked hand in comfortable hand homewards.
So it was only yesterday at nearly midday we kissed each other goodbye. And last night we texted goodnight. And this morning hello as well as looking forward to seeing you later. We can’t have enough of each other it seems. There’s so much to discover and we boldly-ishly reveal some of our secrets – the ones that make us seem cool but not too off-puttingly shocking. We have judged it about right so far. During my most recent crisis when my youngest showed animosity at my inviting Alexander back home, he, ie Alexander took the opportunity to tell me the worst of his own domestic circs. It doesn’t put me off in the slightest that he is still married or that he has children under the age of ten or that his wife still harbours an unhealthy amount of fury and vitriol against him which may be apt to erupt in the foreseeable future. For my own self-preservation I begged him never to reveal my existence to said termagant. Of course it is only his side I’m hearing of their breakup but I do recognise that degree of maleficence, lodged in my very own bosom nearly a decade and a half ago now.
All this, far from causing me pause or to flee, in fact offers the assurance that Alexander and I have nearly all the time in the world to conduct our love affair – all that time being the same lenthy time it takes for such complex relations as his to untangle. My current accord and goodwill shared with the ex seems to offer some hope to Alexander that at some point in the future, he too will enjoy a similar degree of cooperation with his ex.
For a change from our outings I invited him round for dinner this evening. A few others will also be at home but not the young rebel and I have high hopes for a peaceable meal.
How I feel, at what stage we’re at, it all feels like this:
not rushing – stopping,
sink down on a verdant bank
sip the moss-decked burn.
On Friday evening my diary entry was full of restless misgiving despite trying to be reasonable:-
This August my lover has strenuous work commitments on Mondays and Fridays which means that he is not up to going out for a date either before or on those days. We’re still so new it doesn’t quite bother me and he says he wants to give up this unreasonable rota. All the same I find myself waiting for his replies. We texted each other a little earlier and I wrote a reply to his email to me from last night. But it’s now 11 in the evening and I haven’t heard from him. He has a date with one of his other lovers this weekend and I’m busy anyway being a parent and going out with Max on Sunday so am not too perturbed about this.
I guess eventually this relationship will peter out into something lacklustre as infatuations cannot be sustained. And I really don’t like this feeling of uncertainty when my insecurities are given free reign to imagine that he’s had enough of me.
But then this afternoon I get two emails from him and am uplifted all over again! Especially since one of them contains a little lyric poem which he says he now imagines to be about me –
Upon Julia’s Clothes
by Robert Herrick
Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.
Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!
My lover hasn’t been in the pinkest of health recently and in a sympathetic mood I called up an oldie to share with him:
Laid low, not by la belle dame
but a virus sans merci
I alternate between heat
and shivering clamminess
so that sleep eludes me
with an ache so unbearable
It leaves me trembling, wearied
Until I give in, reach out
For that panacea, one little pill
that sends me drowsily Lethe-ward
to dream of an angelic nightingale,
abandon my body to what she will
even as wingèd Morpheus watches on
and softly weaves his soporific spell.