Aime-moi ne m’aime pas

without holding his hand
she taught him how to love art
on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur
amongst the anciens échos du Louvre
and behind the shutters of her camera

she posed with backstreet hoardings
pencils poised in Le Jardins des Tuileries
shapes and colours from life abstracted
Miró, Chagall, Matisse, Jean Debuffet
Métro, tabac, café bar et brasserie

in blue duffel bags, morning boulangeries
pain aux chocolat flakes and Yoplaits
her father’s Leica in smooth leather case
her sketchpad, his notebook, M. Leconte
the weather warm, reasonable for spring

yet her coldness was her weirdness
between the sheets he failed to excite
his passions artistiques between her legs
she cried in bouts,  made him feel guilty
left no choice but to smoke on the balcony

he kept the photographs as aide mémoires
the Pompidou pictures and Tour Eiffels
and the following year he returned alone
to the same hotel in the Rue de Montholon
a room with no view, bins and brick yards

and the sound of lovers through thin walls
the bed frame banging, mattress squeaking
mon amour, mon amour, tu es mon amour
he is tearing the pictures, ripping up the past
casting them out into air and the alley trash

“I loved her un peu, beaucoup, passionnément,
à la folie, pas du tout…”

2

 

in a maelstrom

we are behind the screen hiding

and your lips are very wet

and when we kissed I drowned

and my lungs filled with your fluid

we were lipids confused together

chemically ambient

up to our necks in duplicity

fondling the fibres of each other’s

upholstered limbs

sweetie rappers on fairy dust

snorting sexual desires up inside

four pupils and nostrils flared

ahhhhhh!! the expectation

the kiss of your blissfulness

the wet of your lipstick drool

your nipples are for suckling pigs

your crackling for carnivores

and yes

there were times when it almost happened

out beyond the blue that filled your canvas

or the hallowed shapes that haunted your studio

lines permanently crosshatched

perfunctorily placed with deft indecision

spit spat and splattered upon

those wet licks that ran down the fusions  

of my spine and emptied me whole

in a quivering

in a maelstrom

Elaine

My father was thirty eight when he died

I was barely seven

Mother took me to Spain to ease the pain

Help the healing and never forget

His death had crushed her heart

Part of mine too at the time

The soft white sand slipped through our toes

The cloudy night covered the stars

Transformed them into lost diamonds in the dark

My sunburnt skin itchy beneath my souvenir shirt

 

And then the rain came straight from the heavens

Her sad face and wet hair a sight I would never forget

I found a tiny shell and she held my hand

The castaway clasped between our palms

A momento mori of what was to come

For mother and son

 

For years after she would take me walking in the rain

Walking in the rain with Elaine we would sing

Just like the song

The tiny shiny shell always came too

Clutched between our dripping hands

Sometimes warm

Sometimes frozen

 

One day she tried to wake me from my teenage dreams

But I was growing tired of walking with Elaine in the rain

So she went on her own

And never returned

 

After searching for several days they found her body

She was bloated and floating face down in the local river

Partly wedged under a fallen tree

Somewhat hidden from public view

There was rumour it was murder

But I knew just how much her life had been blighted by grief

Since Dad had passed away exactly ten years before

 

We drove to the Chapel of Rest in Uncle Don’s white van

And there she was

All peaceful looking in her long wooden box

Her hands folded neatly across her chest

Like a sleeping martyr I guessed

I reached into my pocket and found the tiny shiny shell

I kissed it gently for a lingering moment and lovingly

 

Leaning over the coffin pushed it under her cold fingers

Safely wedged in the palm of her right hand

The hand that held mine when we went walking in the rain together

 

Here

Take this Mum, I whispered

And when you meet with Dad

Wherever that might be

Take a walk in the sunshine

And maybe think of me