UKArchive ID: 35918

by archiemac
Originally published on December 4, 2015 in Poetry        

For Rachel, my girlfriend from May to November 2011, the first sexual partner of mine to actually be worthy of my love, which I was unfortunately unable to fully give her.

I still think of her fondly and with respect.


In a Bristol heavy-metal beer-house,
sentences slurred,
too blonde too undark I thought
for an average iron sort
of maiden or gothic bird,
you asked if I was married
and then,
when my guffawing buried
the question in shovelful on shovelful
of don’t-be-absurd
and planted a cross above it,
if I had a girlfriend,
if I was homosexual,
and if you could kiss me. I replied
yeah alright then
and leaned over the bar,
quickest bond I’d ever made,
perk of the job like a company car
I supposed. You weren’t afraid
to talk to anyone, Gob-on-a-Stick
your nickname, bold as a martyr
on a bonfire, hand in hand
with me by the floating harbour
and asking a sudden man
in sunglasses and a falcon-blinding checked shirt
what he did for a living. He worked
in advertising. Yep, you said. It shows.
You were my lusty West Country wench,
I licked clotted cream off your toes
and drank cider out of your bellybutton
but could not wrench
my love for you knees-over-nose
arse-over-tit into the throes
of emotional-cord-cutting
defence-mechanism-sabotaging devotion
that you offered me and required back.
I wasn’t sure why. I wanted to deliver,
even more than I wanted to kick
every accentless bleating neo-feminist eunuch in the nation
to a bloody toothless whimpering death.
You stuck up for me with every breath,
calling my erstwhile best friend with her
broomstick and pagan prayers
a snake-in-the-grass and a bitch
(“Don’t forget your brush, Clare”)
when her priority switched
from friendship to politics
and I was evicted from that dual carriageway-
and-casino-flanked cottage where
the poet Thomas Chatterton who swallowed arsenic
and spat out more than limericks
was born,
just a cripple’s jog from that spire-shadowed
leafy bushy roundabout where we got the horn,
evicted without warning,
for not being female.
Some would call it dirty tricks
that you gave Bristol City Council every detail
of Clare’s peace-flag-windowed matriarchal
occupation, but I call it the touching sparkle
of loyalty.
And you’d have heard a choir of abhorrence
if you’d told your parents
that I wasn’t exactly royalty
and slept in what used to be a factory
that made furry discs for floor-buffing machines
on a sawdust-flecked mattress
that a lanky white Rastafarian in baggy jeans
discovered me kneeling on, penis heavenward,
about to give you what the bishop
said to the actress.
“He saw my cock,” I pondered
and wilted, unable to dish up
any more sex-cake, as you laughed
like a misanthrope during nuclear Armageddon. Whatever you’d
bemoan, the only time my patience wandered
off the edge of the earth was the night
that bloke with the Rovers tattoo
and some craft
snuck some not-sure-what
into your appley brew
and you bounced around the bar
like a chaffinch in a bell-jar
then softly rested your hands
behind earrings that circus tigers could leap through
on a spring-haired stiletto-perched woman’s shoulders
hurling her backwards
crashing like a bag of astrolabes
onto the floor.
“Have you got the painters in, babe?
Or the builders?”
I wondered, as you accused her
of chatting me up by ordering a drink.
Face redder than the local cliff, confused
as a lobster in a chartered accountancy seminar,
I told the bouncers to throw you out
and you to see a shrink.
Rachel, without an atom of doubt
the only woman who’s ever stopped to think
and actually give a coalminer’s fart
about who I am
and understand,
Rachel, with your cheeky sarky gobby little face,
I’m sorry I couldn’t fall to my knees with a hallelujah
for you, but
I’m not sorry about the new start
you gifted me
as thrust traded with clench to profit both
in a merger of
two minds emerging
from dark ages, a rebirth,
an injection
of affection
curing a brain tortured
by the fact the world
isn’t a fig orchard,
by the idea that no worthy girl
will ever care for me, because you did,
and now I don’t feel stupid,
weird or empty to be on my own,
which was all I needed through years
of letting bad luck defy
my spirit and crush me to tears,
now I know I can be alone
and grow and fructify
and don’t need to worship anyone,
so thankyou.

© Archie Macjoyce

© archiemac (gwirionedd on OLD UKA)

UKArchive ID: 35918
Archived comments for Rachel

franciman on 04-12-2015
Archie, she sounds like quite a woman. I hesitate to suggest that with such a testament you have set the bar too high for most predators!

Loved it.



Author’s Reply:
The bar is unfortunately too high for my own good, and there is nothing I can do to lower it. I really wish there was.

Many thanks for your appreciation,