You grew up in egg yolk and home-made bread,
knowing the white gleam of country mansions
and the reek of ageing wood.
Daddy called you his Arabian princess,
you curled every letter he said
round your tongue
until he was gone.
You couldn't touch him anymore
through the photograph gloss.
I grew up in ketchup and fishfinger crumbs,
knowing orange brick of housing estates
and television poisoning.
Dad carried me up the stairs
when my legs gave in
and his eyes sagged further down his face
the more I told him.
He couldn't touch me anymore
through the scratched voice in a phone wire.
When we met we didn't understand
all the years we'd dragged behind us
until you took me to the South
and your world glowed in multi-colour.
I used to peal you mangoes,
sweet yellow tears trickling round my fingers.
I could never sleep
with your chest blooming against my side.
I still press damp lips to your forehead in thought,
feeling the blind weight of years
and groping at your absence.
I picture your face smiling in sepia.
We promised to write,
knowing that ink would never dare
to marry paper.
But I still never manage
to forget you.
It's What She Would Have Wanted
I don't understand
why you'd want to kiss her mouth,
twisted round one side of her face
like a wound-up cog.
Why you'd want her bones
pressing into the fleshy den
of your hips.
Why would you want to degrade me
with her carved away
numb nub of a body,
lying like a plank of wood
in your bed
and why didn't my ghost turn up
to sort all this out?
You take her to a dance
and spin her like thread round a loom.
You lace each finger
between her claws
and embrace a sack of sticks.
If you'd printed the pictures of me,
you'd have turned them to the wall.
Instead you erase my face
from your camera
and start again on an ugly palette.
Well, I will come back.
I'll suddenly be staring at you
over the crag of her shoulder
while she barnacles over your body.
You'll look at me
and all the memories will switch back on
in a series of neon signs,
popping lightbulbs in your eyes.
I hope they are blinded
with the fierceness of imagery,
with the intensity of my wounded glare.
I hope you can never shut them again.
I wanted to cut you off at the hook.
Unleash it from where you had me
by the neck.
I wanted to stop the spool
before it all unraveled,
before my mouth
became a sewed-open "O",
permanently howling love.
Before the awful heart-shaped hole in my chest
crawled with bees.
Before you cupped your hands together
and held the shape
between our eyes,
saying " It is the same thing for both of us,
but you don't see the thumbs."
The other me ran from the house,
blanketed by rain
The real one stayed.
Fingers pressed to the ribcage,
mouth not shaping the sounds.
Wondering how it could be
that you never fought
but always won.
Laura Brown was born in Great Yarmouth in 1984, and has since
then studied German and Spanish at Sheffield University and has
spent the last year enjoying being a continental darling in
Hamburg and Malaga. She doesn't really know what it is that
compels her to write, but likes to use her poetic nature as an
excuse for tantrums and panic.