Early evening heat with that Scandinavian solidity
to the light, I’m on the doorstep with a cigarette
and the worries and regrets a fifty fifth birthday brings.
Feeling penned-in I’m watching a wind-swollen
carrier bag roll like tumbleweed along our street,
faster than I can run. Against the warm air ride
two boys on push bikes, one trying unsuccessfully
to pull a wheelie, the other with an illegible spell
written along his forearm in blue marker.
Synchronised peddling against the wind
in a comfortable quiet of being together.
As they pass neither registers my presence.
Reaching the end of the road they push on,
heads down, bikes rising now into the air
like helium balloons, up over the poplar trees
where the General Hospital stood, dwindling like
two flakes of soot into the cataract eye of the sun.
I am such a precious treasure, gold-hoard, nest egg, souvenir. This body is an asset that will bear such fruit, once I am ripe, plumped and given. There is a wild world beyond the window, pulsing with life and love and loss and oh so dangerous I must not go there, I must be wild inside this tower, inside the chamber, inside this milk-bathed skin, I pretend I am the wind-paths the birds ride, here and there, the swifts, house martins, the wood pigeons and crows, I rush and dance between strips of yellow wallpaper, between the feather bed and the wheel, I spin and spin, flax into gold, flax into silver, flax into copper. Sometimes I get so bored I climb the walls like grandmother spider and one day I’ll clamber out the window and all the way down to the ground and my feet will touch the soil and I’ll pluck grass blades and daisy’s with my toes. Till then I sing and spin and wait, and wave hello to any passing prince, like you, swipe right, swipe right, come and chat, tell me a funny joke, send me a dick pic, make me laugh so hard I piss myself. Here, look at my arms, shoulders, neck, would you like to feel my hair, smell it, climb it, you know it’s a ladder that leads to heaven. I have been growing it forever, I think. Your profile looks so strong and brave, practiced at abseiling, capable of go-getting where you need to be. So, climb, scramble, swing, and scrabble, don’t look down, its further than you’d think, and it doesn’t hurt me too much at all, not really. My scalp is strong. I’ll pull you in and let you rescue me, like all the others did. Let me coil this lock like a snake about your neck. Kiss me once then slip and choke. I love the way you dance a jig on air.
—Published 13th of September 2022
About Bob Beagrie
Bob Beagrie (PhD) lives in Middlesbrough. He has published numerous collections of poetry and several pamphlets, most recently: When We Wake We Think We’re Whalers from Eden (Stairwell Books 2021) And Then We Saw The Daughter of the Minotaur (The Black Light Engine Press 2020), Civil Insolencies (Smokestack 2019).