Gentleman Caller

Fran Lock

The Cavan night aspires to knives; a dog with a prominent
spine is moving among the empties like a broken plough. I
am alone, and the wet, electric air is humming. My boys is
gone to town, to pander the black keys of a rival smile; to
knead their queasy music from the local faces. This feud
is what men do; old women wait with the tattered sacks
of onions, sagged beside a dying fire. And so I sit, in my
flickering kitchen fiefdom, where green potatoes trail their
whitish roots like comets, else shrink in silver blankets,
sputtering, dribbling victims of shock. I sit and I rock,
coddle our cuts of meat like a midwife, madwife – rabbits
plump and dead and sleek. I caresses them, lost in thought,
jugged in the wine-dark juice of a rash winter. I sippet my
sauce. I suck at a fat cheroot. I wipe my nicotine fingers
on the jaggy back of a whelping bitch. I am waiting. I am
alone, and this is his time, my time, and he will come,
and I will come, back to myself from a black hole deep
as poacher’s pocket. I watch our starveling Tom steering
his long shadow between the table legs. I smile. I was
a young girl once and moved like a cat’s shadow. I was
a young girl once, my smitten kiss would sting like snow.
I was young, and he was young, and we were young in
our loitering love. They called me fox, for the teaseled
burlesque of my redbrown hair. They called him bear,
he carried a razorblade under his nail. I remember well,
the smell of hay, our shivering tryst behind the burntout
barn; the way he held my wrist, his fist as tight as a wet
knot. I was cold white feet, in a sateen slip. I danced
delight into his amber eyes, my body a tactical sapling,
oh the slumberous shockwaves of me! He was in my
brain, my blood, like spring’s green treatment. When I
was young. I am alone. I wait. The night sky spits
and flashes like a damp electric fence. My boys is gone
to town, and God, how my old bones saw at themselves.
This feud is what men do, their women wait, have waited.
I have always waited; gas down low to amplify his
staggered light, I watch across the stunted field. Or
venture the hedges in summertime. Or tend to a gash
in the earth’s green yield.