Alors, On Danse
The swelling, sun-drunk clouds collapse
into a gaping gutter of blue sky to sleep off
their intoxication in the midday heat.
The sea is the colour of thunder,
and I slide down the spine of a wave,
welcoming the cold. I know I am not
seeking atonement. Does that make me
a bad person? Or just a fool?
Tori and Little Sam scramble onto a boulder
of broken bunker lodged in the sand.
They squeal as the spray snaps
at their little, pink toes. My envy
turns the water broken-bottle green.
I read Saul Bellow at the kitchen table.
The two roof tile-brown hens are as round
as planets and their tap-tap-tap at the window
is like a metronome. Bloom, the golden retriever,
lies asleep at my feet. She only comes to me
when I'm reading Bellow or Malamud.
I think she has a preference for
In the evening I sneak away for my first cig in days.
I wander down the beach road towards
Cap Gris Nez and there's a strange feeling
pitching its tent in my stomach;
I have a feeling I've met him before
and in accented English he says his name is 'Déjà-vu'.
And as I sit down in the doorway
of an abandoned German bunker, I remember.
This time last year I came here for refuge -
I half-expect to find the butts from last August's cigarettes.
But no, just frozen sparks of glass on the concrete floor,
and unsuspecting cows chewing grass on my left.
Lighting up, I inspect my packet of black and gold JPS.
The health warning covers half the front, bold and
self-important, but somehow "Fumer Tue"
sounds so much prettier - the syllables curling
the tongue - than the English. I guess most things
sound better in French. Even death.
My sandals have left two creamy tan-lines
over my feet like the swirl in the caffe latte
I find myself sipping with Big Sam at Chez Monique.
We are sitting at a table on the terrace, blowing smoke
into our coffee, and throwing our heads back to laugh.
We know we are being pretentious and clichéd,
but we can't help it when remembering our former selves;
our socially-awkward, acne-riddled, fifteen-year-old selves
dressed in ill-fitting clothes, speaking in moans.
Things may be more fucked up now than then,
but at least I've learnt how to channel the pain -
poetry being my get-out clause.
I sit in bunkers, on beaches, in cafés, at kitchen tables,
thinking of you. My fingers curling over the edge of my childhood.