164. sugar & spice *

the man with the big dark eyes looked down on me,

the gates of hell ajar,
he stood there & watched as I moved to sit on the toilet
– are your knickers on
or are your knickers off ?
for only poor girls and whores & so-called stars
with shaven muffs
wear no knickers, he whispered in my ear.

and while I sat
he’d get another drink
on the house, so to speak.
A gentle man, in his way & very English,
but partial to a drop or two
of his favourite tipple.

I’d wake up sometimes
& he’d just be sitting there
in the semi darkness
watching me talk in my sleep
the red glow of a cigarette arcing
up & down, up & down
as the clock ticked away.

I decided later,
long after he died,
that he couldn’t help it
– it was not of his choosing –
but as the key turned in the door
I’d hear him slip away
& call out lovingly
“ a cup of tea, Mollie ?”
as mum came home.