The whisky wandered
through me and I floated away.
Joe came and kissed me
lightly on the lips, I felt the ghost
of his moustache, held on to his hand,
all the while my stomach twirling,
then I was back, in Santa Pola
the night we went into the sea.
The water lazed like melted
dark chocolate, and the moon,
the moon was a soft-glow bulb
over our shoulders. Miles
of dark, stretched away behind us.
We tipped up and lay on the sea
holding hands, looking up at the stars.
I was scared of drifting
but Joe squeezed my hand,
telling me to let go. Let go.
And now this room
with its band of family snaps
wraps me in a wave
and he fades into the light.
Dancing to a Different Tune
The mental ticking-off of miles and time
stretch me forward, onto the road.
I'm a waving line, counting down
to the end of my life;
my family isn't long-lived.
These days, I am a woman preparing
time. I urge it to slow down, bring me
flowers to smell. No more bombing
up motorways – life must fall
back for the cameras.
The road speeds into the past at seventy,
mostly. I'm counting the exits
on the M6. The up-beat of impending
arrival rises through my chest
to sit on my shoulders.
Every glance at the dials shows me
I'm speeding, but that all changes
the further north I drive. It's as if
everyone wants to leave their lives,
just get on the motorway and go.
Traffic is clogged with trucks
through the Midlands. They weave
their way across the lanes, turning
the world grey, and a heaviness settles
into my mind. Change is here already.
My feet love the pressure of brakes,
and I ease onto the slip-road.
Suddenly the music is too loud.
I drive through the car-park, into a holiday
resort – Service Station Galactica.
Accents from all over the country, the world,
people moving through their lives,
passing a moment in my view – a dance
like some modern theatre acted out in public,
each character replaced over and over again.
Irene Cunningham, born in Glasgow, now reclines at the side of Loch Lomond. She has had poems published in London Review of Books, Writing Women, New Writing Scotland, New Welsh Review, Poetry Scotland, Stand Magazine and many more journals. Now working on her first novel, she blogs at http://irenecunninghamisinsideout.wordpress.com