I am a serpent
secretive in stripes and heels,
gently losing my dignity
to the dark-eyed gentleman
holding the door open,
in the formality of the 1920’s.
That expansive manner of his,
made up of tailored clothing
and Gatsby-esque sentences.
I slither in my silk
underwear and stockings, a brazen
fox coming too close to the window.
He slides behind me in the kitchen, puts
a confident hand on the back of my neck
And my ballet-shoe, as fire matches fire.
My skin electrifies and I stop my tongue
just in the places he needs me to,
in between sentences and before he moans
Vinyls at two a.m.
Light floods grey-green field,
tail chases paws headfirst
and the squirrel dives out of sight.
The man who conceals us so
is pacing upstairs to a vinyl
I know he gets restless in the night.
Two o’clock and I
scurry down the empty stairs,
his full mouth and that sweet taste
I was standing in his
maroon socks, skinny hands
and how they found my waist.
A pale-haired devilish man, brown eyes wild and uninhibited,
burning with all I thought lost to youth.
The black tide crawling its way up to us, blue water washing bottles,
battling the remnants of truth.
He will not take care of me, except in the ways I need, and anyway -
we leave no proof.
That autumn evening
Brown eyes soft and ‘You can’t embarrass yourself here,’ but oh, you know this is just the start
while I join him where it scares me, beneath the stars.
Ecliptic lights flashing on the road-side,
his pace is boyish and catlike
‘Where were you walking to?’ I say,
his bag of wine clanking, my cheeks streaked
‘You,’ he says, half-surprising himself,
before we turn back to her.
Illuminated by the neon sign
woman in demand
(he finds her eyes kind)
drinks in her pebbled beach scent.
And then he was taking the stairs two at a time, for me
Running after that autumn evening as the burnt leaves sizzled in the sun
Spreading his passionate mind thin across the knife she holds
I throw open the window and let in night-time air
he shuts it, when I’m around -
and my jealous hands scatter the gifts outside
cards lying on the black grass,
no longer sweet
looking like litter and distaste.
My chest reddens with shame
I smoothen my black tights
with shaking hands,
Longing for early hours
spent wrapped in his arms,
rustic-sounding tones, as he sings me to sleep
his room is threaded with records and cut clean
When he swore behind me, I half-hoped it to be
a promise that night: she was his final hit of morphine.
But I know how this will go, by heart; soft murmur of Jolene,
A watercolour passerine, etched onto cerulean wood, clutched by clammy fingers.
Chained at the ankle, an istoria in honeycomb, a cruel loss of her familiars.
Sweet as a Dutch finch, leaf at the window, charred-red and wetter than sweat.
One of the oaks beyond, in shadow of the first, spears the sky’s pamphlet.
A tableau vivant, history-book open, artist surveying whitewashed mural.
Imaginary words, enunciations of estuary England, clear and yet cordial.
Across the gallery, our gazes could have entwined, without any performing.
Unwatched, she had been unravelling, her dark hair softly falling.
No footprints in the corridors, ‘I’ll be five minutes in,’ and out before the showers.
Tunisian rugs, dust-particles in swirls, bridges over water I watched for hours.
Next was Rembrandt, gold ebbs of lighting, brush-strokes in shadows of noir.
Empty corridors, I had travelled little and light, yet I had come so far.
I passed the birds, French Impressionists, and landscapes dreadful and dark.
The paintings, recalling loved ones missing, in beauty or in death.
They belong framed, imitating life, all I’ve known hanging in depth.
Love joined in artistically, there she was, in understated display.
Refined as dawn, even sunset was lightness, she could only be a Monet.
Clear strokes, pastel and acrylic, a copy in a nearby bungalow.
I walked by Japanese art, seascapes blue, and contrasting white snow.
Her laugh was bright, like Blake or Klimt, feminine silhouette in smock.
A theatrical charm, everything she touched, I saw her in Flemish Baroque.
Landscapes of Amsterdam, the Dutch Golden Age, European avant-garde.
I suppose you could say, everyone I ever loved, is crystallised in art.
Elle Renée Morgan is a twenty-something content writer with an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from Sussex. She enjoys French literature, wine, red lipstick, and anything decadent from the early twentieth century.