Moli Lloyd Evans
At the End of the Phone
She picks up. The voice asks her
what she’s eaten, is she okay, how
many steps were taken to the bus,
was it cold and is there anything
to report like last week’s promotion.
The voice is okay too, teases
the phone cable between finger
and thumb, leaning
on the cabinet,
one foot in a slipper
and another misplaced,
or forgotten. The voice is okay.
She answers. The voice wants to hear:
tomato soup from the tin, a little
full of something caught,
seventy-two steps, cold
with the mischief of winter sun and a boy
with arms to carry the weight
of a bad day. The voice
is okay too, sits by untouched plate,
bladder dry, volume high, resting
head in hand
to release the skull
from the candle wick
neck. The voice is okay.
She stares at a phone undisturbed.
She thinks of the moment
a cinema becomes a room, a nod
to refusing dessert, a mouth
falling open on a pillow, the sand
in the footwell of a car,
the half-sip from a glass,
the tube stop in zone six,
lights out at the supermarket,
a cone without ice-cream,
the final ring before the beep.
On the Fifteenth Floor
Time is a childish thing,
never reads the mood of a room before a declaration.
It speaks in your dull accent and expensive suit,
I look far down at the pavement mottled in smudges
of distinct length and pace. Some slow and patient,
others as fast as they can bear, like insects shrugging off
the last of a rainfall. You can have the bookcase
if it will fit in the lift. I asked you once
what our empty window boxes mean to other people.
Now I want the watercolour teapot, Victorian birdcage
and bamboo rocking chair. Your hands
don’t belong to you as they exaggerate your talk
of halves. And the leather ottoman is yours. Our days
spent in the kitchen, you chewing over that something
about waking up fifteen floors above the postman.
The sun takes its time with the floorboards as always
and now you’re talking magazine subscriptions. I never felt
that something. I’ll give you plenty of time. I’ll give you
the Japanese paper knife and the geometric lampshade.
But time, already escaped us for something better.
I loved the Tudor arch with trumpet vine,
texture of the sun-dried brick,
sweet pea on the porch step.
Letterbox in royal blue, moonflower
spilling out the guttering, ginger cat
basking. I could leave
the front door swinging, hot sun
curling into the hilltops and we would
spin barefoot in the tall, emerald grass.
Cool off together on the bathroom tiles
with June greasing the backs
of the beetles. Cabbage flies tunnelled
into July’s meaty crop, we smoked cigars
on the rosewood decking. Skin cracking
at the knees and elbows, August
felt like hot butter in a pan.
I know the end came long before we left,
lying on the driveway legs extended,
aphids alive in the air. Autumn never
came, bulbs opening, trees abandoning
a turn of season. Everything unfallen,
just a mighty, bloated heat. We begged
for the birds to move on, covered ourselves
in juice from the aloe vera. It got hotter,
November spent on the tiles, the wallpaper
starting to peel. He tried to comfort me
with our palms coated in salty oil,
our porch step like smouldering coal.
All the framed faces drooped to the floor,
the ginger cat left us
and followed the fox into the burning
woodland, I could not cry. Kneeling
at the freezer our ears rang, faces blistered.
Panting dogs with tongues swollen, January
never came. And when it was finally time
to go, we held each other and never left.
Heat of the Red Light
on our cheeks, dust
from the two wheelers
dressing up the cobblestones.
Rows of bobbleheads
in yellow, plum and magenta,
a hundred upright fists
towards the blackened sky.
You press me
against a closed barber shop,
your breasts to mine. And so,
I tell you I crouch down
in the shower when I’m sad.
Like a salesman
I ease you in gently.
Tell you the water tunes
my body like a violin,
a body full of sinking purrs.
Palm to lamppost
you circle the city
and I ask you your name
again. You say you hate
looking too much like yourself
in pictures. In the crystalline
lights you look like
under almond blossoms.
Over the waxen canal
I tell you I want bad things
to happen to me so I can smell
affection in white bouquets.
You take me
to a beat-up hotel and I lose
inches from the things I say,
Until, like flowers -
you know the rest.
in the air pockets of the morning
flood you talk with your mouth
full so i watch
the cud of your bran flakes, churning
like butter and i wonder
if you ever think of your age.
that sound from your gullet
is the thing i hate the most
and i just can’t recall a version
of your company i enjoy.
the things i could say pass like snow
until you’ve left and i’m left
with the way you can’t rehome a towel.
falling out of love
with you briefly lets me pause
on things. i think of what
you said about my mother last night.
i think of how you always talk
plant food with the neighbours. late
afternoon you’re here again, so it’s bad tv
and the shaded words when you speak
of our financials. once abed
i think of the way you text
only in capital letters.
as you slumber your fingers
find their way to the heat
of my body,
and even in sleep we move like wheel
and spoke. i think of how you always
talk to dogs like they know something
and how the first time
i saw you
was our third date. perhaps,