Before The Fall



He got her drunk very quickly:
holding hands they found the broom cupboard
where he had control as far as the fall,
the rasping descent of her tights
When his hand covered wet hairs
she took over among furniture wax, dust,
the cloying yellow of polishing cloth
When he was sick
she comforted him

He couldn't do it properly: the club,
the office had left out details of delight
Satisfied, he would collapse out,
puzzled at why she still squirmed,
held on to him, tears curling into her mouth
This was something stories always omitted:
that her joy would seem like pain
when he focused after release

In the third week of the relationship
she was tripping on organic acid,
would stop, pick up a rained out leaf,
would give it into his hand,
full of dead things before they reached the car
When they drove she sat with mouth open
as though photographed on the impact
of a stomach punch, her right hand gripping
the skin of his leg: he feared her,
slapped out sideways into her face
She touched the cut with her tongue,
gurgling gratitude for the strange taste

He stood looking through uncleaned windows,
concentrated on the yellow of his car below
On the uncarpeted floor, with practice,
she closed her eyes and drew on the cigarette
Twill jacket and polo-neck made him sweat,
his nape skin red from a hair cut

Between two smokers she smiled up at him;
as the weed approached he apologised
suddenly wanting familiar territories:
beer, to put his hand up her skirt
At the bottom of the limbed stairs
he booted the cat, a drop kick in their twenty-five
as he imagined her sylph laugh
gathering chuckles around the







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