Zoe Green: Letters Unsent
Salt is how you taste and
Tarred rope of frayed hair at
Arm and groin as if I’m
Swimming I suck quick cold
Breaths and dive pearls until
I drown a seagull’s cry
In sheets of sweated foam.
You are, my love, rills of
Honey hair dripping down
The plunging mattress cliff
Where we lately made our love
Baltic eyes swimming shut
Under thin pink cowls of skin
A smile a scallop
Slinting wide upon the
Evening’s dune of jaw.
For breakfast you cook huevos rancheros
Learnt from a girl on a band tour twenty years ago,
Stolen now to a skyline flat with
Crouched windows, slipslant roof; scribbled
Stick men on the fridge by absent Joe,
His medals piled proudly on our shelves
In front of Mitchell and Amis and co;
In the bedroom, the pink feather duvet
Rumpled; a black and white photo
From the days when you were a star,
Long haired with a girl red-tressed who
Looked like me, and a bass guitar.
In bed, eyes half shut,
Cat in the sun; smell caught.
The box of biscuits
You couldn’t afford
Tasting of dust.
Long johns beneath your trousers
To keep out the cold.
Conversations half-way toward dawn,
In a dishwater sky.
You chiselled every line,
Inscribed yourself on the night.
Beautiful lion, big glitter of love.
You make me feel
Invincible but you could obliterate me
With a word.
The night I’m cursed,
You paint my back,
My buttocks red;
Your prints, my blood;
On moonbathed skin.
Pink blossom on a neon street
Delights you, ‘Look,’ you pulse, ‘look!’
Quietly I am glad you notice these things too.
Sitting side by side over Africa,
I say something and you look at me,
Then look away; then back at me and laugh,
And it is the biggest, brightest beach of a laugh
I’ve ever heard.
“We can’t stay here all night”;
The wings of his collar nip my neck.
The wind hurls snowflakes in spirals
While our legs in a single stem
Grow up against the bar.
Now we grow up the crooked stair
And pare our skins while
In terror I try
To pin your face to his;
Later I find
The black silk sash of my dress
Coiled cold and stiff in the snow
A thing that has died in the night;
I come home to you asleep in the dawn,
The light still on,
And the phone by the bed.
Eclipse and the End of Love
Naked, we peel sticky slivers of bark
From orange stone
Stuffing them into our mouths that
Swell with sweetness.
Our lips, sugar-glossed,
Close hot and edible on each other’s.
In delinquent pleasure we
Eat the moon away which at
Ten o’clock hangs heavy in the sky,
Veined and marbled as a gourd.
Ten past and it’s lost its bottom,
Bit off by an invisible mouth.
Half past and it hangs empty-wombed
Hungry into darkness;
The clock strikes, and only a
Rust-red stain remains, a tongue
Edged with a row of teeth. Sated,
Editions du Désastre
You broke the picture of the lovers when
You turned away last night. Heave of mattress –
Glass and slashed photograph through the gap
Between bed and wall.
On the spring day by le quai,
Blossom speckled river; the spectacled nun
Averts her head as the man presses
His hands, bends in, drinks, and
She, hair loosening on the wind, lifts her chin and kisses and kisses.
These flowers by the cheval:
Did you buy them? Your bedroom looks nice, and
The new mirror, but you don’t look pleased to see me.
Since December you’ve changed:
We’re awake all the long night long,
Side by side, staring up at the velvet dark.
You stack flack jacket and keffiyeh,
Into the grey plastic crate, ABC Baghdad;
Scrunch clothes into tubes,
Denude The Seven Pillars of its jacket –
Though you say it will be dusty there,
And hot, forty degrees – hence the sandals
And the desert scarf and the baseball cap.
The flex of your arms,
The sickle of skin at the base of your back:
You bend and push and tuck and fold.
I read by your absent expression
That you left many hours before.
A goodbye kiss, a three point turn
(Foot too hard on the gas);
In my rear view mirror
You watch me
At home the redskin nuts I roasted
When you were here,
The books on my desk, last touched
When you were here,
And a corner of paper with your writing on.
I’m cycling to the shops when there’s a roar
Overhead and the white belly of a plane soars
Towards the Levant.
Zoë Green is a young writer and poet, born in Scotland and currently based in the south of England. She won the 2004 Harpers and Queen Orange Prize for Short Fiction after being shortlisted for Vogue New Young Writer of the Year. Her stories and poems have been published in The London Magazine, Untitled Books, Tales of the Decongested, Cutting Teeth, Harpers and Queen and Litro. She has also written for The Observer, The Financial Times, The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, The Independent, Literary Review and The Institute for War and Peace.