You pulled me through scabby streets
into a lift where drawings of fleshy girls
peeled from the walls. I was to be healed.
The apartment of cats breathing dust, cut-outs of kittens
and roses and shining blue eyes was meant to be a kind of heaven.
Black-draped, she gripped my hands and whispered, "Yes, yes.
Yes, yes" as you prodded the craters in my skin, said my face in home video
shurt you. – I imagined you, piously trembling as I ate lollies, ran
down a beach caked in salt and sand. – There were thousands
of eyes then, and fur against my legs as she slurped
holy water, scratched airy crosses, spat
in my face and moaned at the floor,
you hovering like the cruellest flower.
I tried to speak to you but my mouth seemed full
of roses, the light was smothered by cats,
her fingers lashing at my red marks and blisters
as far off somewhere you pressed yourself
against a wall and yowled at me to pray.
These days I remember the itch on my elbow
as we came home, you sniffing and cooking me bland potatoes,
running me endless baths, making a mental note:
things will always be wrong. We send you photos you dislike,
and you sit in your dressing gown skimming
the scraps of alien things, our wonky grins;
we think of your living room full of flawed children,
faces slammed down, chewing dust. How sick we are, you wheeze,
how sick we are.
They stand on scraps of broadsheet leaves, behind
this red-brick building; he’s been talking since
they left; the alley’s dim, his speech unwinds,
unwinds, unwinds, newspapered fingerprints
smudge over her; he throws out figures, names,
analysis, statistics, sparkling things
economists have said, “it’s all a game”
he laughs; her neck is cold; he clings and clings
to her; the calculations crumble, she
tastes like a broken wine glass as he smears
her lips with numbers, begging her to see;
knowing, of course, he will not find it here
he presses her against the dark red bricks.
He knows she doesn’t get French politics.
Summer in the City
This afternoon postcards with the Queen's head on them
have been quietly disappearing from the soggy racks, as dozens
of us have scrawled I MISS YOU IT'S AWFUL on the back
not knowing where to send them. Or so I like to think.
Though perhaps there are others whose knees buckle on buses
crashing through Catford, sometimes, when Crazy Bus Lady, a local
celebrity, throws back her head to howl Amazing Grace
at us, the rattling cattle. There must be others who notice
rain-beaten cafe tables and secluded spots in parks
where someone is missing, who pass through a square remembering
its Legoland equivalent. By the way, the woman we saw
in her black and white silks and painted misery
is still there, sobbing on the street corner as if all her bones
are breaking to pieces, the hat by her feet glinting toothily
with pound coins. Everywhere I go I hear brass bands.
Annie Katchinska is originally from Moscow and currently lives in London, where she's in her final year of school. She has won the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award twice and in 2007 came second in the Christopher Tower poetry competition. Annie is part of the editorial team of Pomegranate (www.pomegranate.me.uk), an online zine that publishes young poets. She also rambles a bit at murielmatters.blogspot.com.