Johnno and the Seagulls

1 February 2018

is not the name of a boy band, though it could be,
I think, and then how it’s so easy to lay the blame
at the feet of others. But if you hold the brush,
then you’re responsible for how the painting looks.
As surely as the artist makes the art, people
make the mess they call their lives. I am
no Goddess, but I have to remind myself that
what I have with Johnno I created, though it took
more than six days and six nights of labour
and I don’t remember resting on the seventh.

When Johnno unwraps the white parcel of fish
and chips on the grassy ledge at Brighton-Le-Sands,
I want to throw it all to the seagulls and let them
squabble and bicker right down to the very
last chip. They prowl around our feet, these
shameless salt and vinegar scavengers.

I rejoiced when I floated through the early
months of coupledom, but now I’m stranded
in this limbo of Friday night picnics, Saturdays
pashing at the movies, Sundays given over
to a trek up some bloody mountain track
while the flies circle, my t-shirt sticks to my back
and my calves threaten unprecedented strike action.
It’s as if I’ve nailed up my volition in some tea chest
and left it in storage while it waits for my ship
to find the harbour. Botany Bay is calm, serene,
the wind fresh, the sun slipping out of sight
with this euphoric belly flop into the early evening.

How did I manage this—a thinking, independent
woman who can’t say what’s on her mind
because her man is going away to the war? And
that’s assuming I know what I want to say.
Now that he’s leaving he seems more attractive
somehow, this modern hunter gatherer
who might not have caught the fish
with his own hands, but thought enough of me
to pack a plastic goblet, corkscrew and a bottle
of plonk—this crisp, fruity moselle that goes
straight to my head, the lights shimmering
in the dark water like a hallelujah chorus.

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