Charlotte Gann is a freelance writer and editor from Lewes. Her poetry pamphlet, The Long Woman (Pighog Press), was shortlisted for the 2012 Michael Marks Award.
The Black Water
is lapping at your cup and saucer.
Do you really not see it? Ink sloshing
against fine-rimmed china.
My eyes are on your kindness, on
a vase of sweet peas in your alcove.
Quiet standard lamp by pale-blue armchair,
casting its aura. But I can’t not see
the cold dark water. Can’t not feel its oil
seep up through my boyfriend’s jumper.
You pass a plate of small pink cakes –
even as the black sea licks bookshelves,
light-shades. Even as I hoist my body
out of this chair – toppling delicate
oval table – back away across worn
grey carpet. Grope for the door.
Darkness is the wave that carries us crashing,
crashing onto this beach where scared young girls
wander barefoot, dressed in pale vests,
move like dancers with thumb-bruised arms.
Darkness is the wave that plunges us, lank-haired
and middle-parted, always staring straight ahead
at a family man gone bad/ loner with a grudge/
blinds lit from within, the mottled shape of butterflies.
Darkness is the wave that brings me here,
to the brink of her long tattooed back as she rides him
beneath a small high-bolted window.
Darkness is the wave that sends me spiralling
into lidless forest where someone hunted
hurtles always many miles from hearing.
Darkness is the wave that breaks, wet scarlet
on white plaster, in bedroom/ bathroom/ hotel room/
apartment/ in the ill-lit hallway beyond
the peephole, to the hectic rumble of a rising lift.
Darkness is the wave that sends us spinning out
onto this steep black-cobbled beach, lip-first,
to safely taste a woman, impossibly naked, in a room
frantic with wallpaper and lamp-thrown shadows.
[‘The Black Water’ appeared first in Antiphon issue 10. ‘Picturehouse’ appeared in The Rialto, issue 75, and then in And Other Poems.]
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