Mea Culpa

There’s been no warmth in this marital bed
Since the White Horse closed its doors in ninety-eight,
Since Danny fell asleep on Roughlea bridge
And we crept away, with cold hands
And hot breath, to the garden shed.

“Is it my fault?” you said,
Folding in, day-by-day, limb-by-limb.
“Butter the bed, dot and cross
With a knife, where we should lie.
Eat until you are full. But mind me
If I am dirtied. Mind me.”

There’s been no joy in this marital house
Since Wheeler Mill closed down the kilns in ninety-eight,
Since Danny put his fist through your front door
And you crept away, with marked skin,
Cowering in the bathroom, like a trapped mouse.

“It’s only a bruise” you said,
Folding in, day-by-day, limb by limb.
“You own this bed, take what you need,
Turn me out. I’ll hold on,
I’ll staple up this mouth. But mind me
If I bleed a little. Mind me.”

You knew this marriage was a field of thorns.
You knew. And yet you chose to bear it all in satin shoes.
“We walked this road together, this razor-edge”
You said. “Is it me? Is it always me?”
Is it? For ten years I turned my head. Ten years.

For that. Mea culpa. Mea culpa.

 


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