Friday, January 20, 2012

Dinner was Campbells (Month of Poetry #20)

I met you young, and then again at thirty.
It was me that in later life you married.
The mole on my cheek stayed non-cancerous
and the mole in that other place fascinated
years after we found those uncanny rings
on our shaking fingers. We chucked in sense
like a steaming massage towel, we threw
every waking hour against the dreaming drawbridge.

We took it upon ourselves to hurl our
caution money at gangster winds.
I would write, you would teach.
I announced the last of my grant in ominous tones:
“Germany has declared war on Russia.”
Swimming in the afternoon was cancelled when
the pool fees outstripped dinner and a
rare bottle of painstripper cabernet.

I knocked off writing, you finished teaching
and slipped a coin in the public phone
each evening at 5, affected snotty French tones
and enquired whether Madame would care
for cream of chicken or the beef and vegetable?
Dinner was Campbells. We exhausted the
Warhol jokes but stayed warm over the stove
even once the novelty of poverty wore off.

We ran our cards up in hot plastic slots.
For a few months there was less money,
then there was no money at all.
Was exactly what we had contained in a
voice from the end of the street?
Tapped along a wire we had no want
of reversing, running thin like soup
through the cables between our ears?


Today's poem is based on suggestions from three people (which is lucky, as I forgot to ask for suggestions last night but they came forth anyway!)

@timsterne: "Germany has declared war on Russia. Swimming in the afternoon" (Franz Kafka, Diaries)
@ernmalleyscat: "No money at all was exactly what we had" (George McRobie, Small is Possible)
@scooter_lass: "in later life you married the mole" (Martin Amis, The House of Meetings)

I remember reading somewhere about a writer couple (I think) who for a while could only afford a can of soup each night to share for dinner. Each evening he would ring her from the public phone at the end of the street, to see which flavour of soup she felt like that evening. The phone call probably cost half again what the can of soup did, but that gesture of his phone call has stayed with me, though I've long forgotten who the people actually were.

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