The second hand has stopped
and there'll be a queue behind me
if I stand here much longer,
in English national dress on the ledge.
Speedometer max and the brights turned up.
The sea is throwing ornaments at the rocks
and shouting orders at me
to believe the spirit level and plumb drop,
the truth of the cliff face
all the way down to twelve waiters carrying
twelve suns shining from twelve silver trays.
And I've lost trust in my feet,
while I hang onto symmetry
and hang on to my handbag with both hands
my name and address inside
and a postcard home.
I heard a wave strike the hour
and a voice through the music say,
'stay by the wall the dance floor's iced over with spilt beer'.
Young tornadoes pulling my curls their way
lopsiding me to the edge,
though the queue can clearly see
I haven't moved an inch.
Snow never used to settle by the sea.
My identity in my handbag
the strap in both hands
and why at times like this
do I remember the escalator fire
18th November, Kings Cross, 1987, London?
Did the woman hear me remember
as she turned back?
'I'm getting too old for this,' she said,
'look at the time, I'll set a place for you,
meet me for afternoon tea.'
And she walked between me and the edge
a ten year second
her feet were precise,
her hand didn't catch me,
her heel stayed on her shoe,
I didn't go with her,
two women, connection unknown, unreported.
She'll be passing the sugar by now
and wondering if she should pour one for me,
while I look in a line
down only as far as the address in my handbag
who to inform.
High steppers on the corniche
their sea playing marbles
while mine is demanding to know
why I can't move on this path
as wide as the one I walk to work.
I think I'm sweating
so therefore I'm hot
therefore I'm thirsty
and being at a table with people I don't know
and over brewed tea
would be better than standing here.
I could tell them my name
and undo my fingers from my handbag,
I wouldn't fall off my chair.
I could turn,
face my back to the rock
thousand years behind me,
ninety degrees to the sea and the edge.
My necklace feels the weight of a cannon ball,
I can't take it off
both my hands are holding my handbag,
my eyes zoom and focus
breath taking views
take a breath and focus,
it's the fashion this year
to concrete the beach
and embalm the bathers.
I feel the colour of lard reheated,
the wind riling up the sea
I'm cold. Waxy cactus hot.
Wipe in the dirty white lard
the only way to shift it is to scrape it away,
not like faded black out on a good time.
Muscle over wound,
my blood flushing loud as doors banging
into my hands, my fingers wound round
my bag strap, must hold onto something
my name and address, who to inform
has to stay with me,
my eyes on the rocks
my arm, leg, head, arm, face
on the rocks
my blood in the sea.
Have I been here what remains of my life?
Would there only be a witness
if they looked up at a scream
before they saw someone fall?
I'd hate it to be the woman who invited me to have tea with her family, all of us English. Cut flowers in water. Would she want to take a photo of me with her daughter if I was the type to fall off a cliff? My family at home in England, their address on a postcard.
Or I could turn my back to the sea,
in a second,
my feet don't even have to lift or cross.
Silent rock only, a lizard; stone then clockwork and a flower growing out of the rock. Jaguar red, minaret petals, kaleidoscope circle, powder puff pink backcombed through a crown dripping dots. Cutlass leaves folded longways, grown a silver crop. Deep stitched to the cliff face. I almost cry when I see flowers growing between the pavement and a wall.
I've seen something like this one before. When we looked through the window of the film star hotel.