Monday, 20 September 2010

Snakebite by Catherine Smith

(i.m. Helen Penfold, 1961-1999)

Things are looking up. We’ve
found a pub where the landlord,
convinced by my smooth lies, your

proper breasts, will serve us snakebite.
He tips the lip of each pint glass,
froths in lager, pours cider and asks

How much blackcurrant, ladies?
You smile at him, murmur When -
we love how his hands shake

as you take your change.
We gulp like seasoned drinkers,
avoiding the stares of the old gits

with their bitter, their racing pages.
The drink hits the spot and
everything is funny. You nearly

take my eye out playing darts.
And at the Rec on the way home,
full of sugar and gas, we slump

on the swings we dared each other
to leap from as kids, jewelling
our palms and knees with grit.

We lean back under the night sky,
under all the stars we can’t name,
we’re full of how we’ll leave

this dump of a town first chance we get -
how we despise the regular lawns,
the sagging paddling pools, we’re

singing as we approach our road.
Today was hot, like the days,
buckling with laughter, we shoved

each other over on your drive,
the tarmac sucked at our sandals
and the ice-cream van played Lara

from Dr. Zhivago, too slow. Tomorrow
we’ll feel sick as dogs. But tonight,
here, under a bright, full moon,

we’re amazing, and as we hug
on my doorstep, I taste you,
kiss the snakebite off your lips.

Catherine Smith

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