The man tying the bag over his head,
the small of his back sore against a stair,
his lips gone numb and white, waiting to spread,
his legs tight like a mystic’s crossed in prayer,
his words like pulses wrapped in too much wool,
his neck that sometimes nicks him when he swallows,
his past like something catching on his skull,
his train of thought too stop-and-start to follow –
this wet-nosed ass who can’t quite tie the strings
is going to do a really selfish thing.
Before he goes he’ll guess at what you’ll say.
He’ll try to count your grief in weeks and days.
He’ll scare you half to death. This one will hurt.
You’ll drop and look for answers in his dirt.
I was God’s wife. Not the pillar of salt. God’s.
Our Heaven was good, just didn’t last very long.
He spent all his time in His Garden,
didn’t talk to me much after the wedding.
Then He made another woman, brown and beige,
really little, but in my own image,
but little. He waved unknowable fruit at her, teasing.
‘Nooo, you can’t have this one. This one’s for meee.’
I hear He has a train set now
or something, and He flooded the little people? I dunno.
It’s possible He even killed their first born.
I hear He has their witches stoned?
And He fathered a kid with another of the beggars
or something. I didn’t look back.
No? You honestly have no regrets?
No, I guess you’d have no use for them.
You look near-perfect to me, well except
for maybe your singing, and even then
you do it stylishly. Everything paid
and sipped from tiny bottles, like your gin.
Yesterday’s losses loudly swept away,
your fleeting doubts banished with ‘no’ again.
I wish I felt the same about regrets.
I wish I’d stopped the trolley-bloke, just now,
and a had a drink myself, to just forget
like you with your rien. Perfect and proud.
But next time, love, I shan’t just let him go
with such a simple, sorry answer, ‘No’.