A Proposal

There was a night before a day with no rent when I spoke softly in your ear as you slept : one day we will get married. I have never told you this. The heatwave brings out what the winter kept hid. The most extreme since 1911 when The Times at last stopped listing the heat-stifled dead. East London was putrid in trapped tanks of air & as the women joined their men marching on Trafalgar Square the open sky was a massive success, a freedom worth fighting for. Those in Liverpool walked out in sympathy & opened the kegs they had lugged for years to drink the contents on the streets. Tomorrow you might walk on as an extra in the film of Brick Lane- relocated to Turnpike – & the money you make will go into the fund for the plans we make. Reading John James in bed I am starting to believe that I am here again. You say you are hot but wrap your legs into mine, well there’s nothing the breeze from Shoeburyness – through the curtains and over the dresser – can do about that. I can’t wait for our future together you say, but when does it start ? The night it happened, two weeks ago, I was no more aware of what I was going to say than would you like more wine ? Ness, our time was then. The kestrel had cut its own shape against the sky like a tattoo on the retina – hovered with no wind – & as the bats, like burned swifts, tried to skirt the subject it was too late : the stars had already put us on the map. Very quietly & very secretly should we get married ? Between us a glance of vitreous success that wanted to last, as if this piece of Dagenham grass would be our legacy. We waited, holding hands, for the first show of fox. Dogs barked & plotted out the silent tracks she made. Imagined fox gave way to fox – swift on the outhouse, feral, musically-ribbed – all was perfect this as she passed. Mongrel Max clambered his trampoline & scared her off. Midnight we found the doors but the walls were too thick – accustomed as we were to the poise of night our home seemed docile, an oafish fist of brick. We went to bed & the rest is this : a cost of one hundred pounds, a catalogue dress at two pounds sixty for 52 weeks. Last night I dreamt us a thumbnail baby with no rollover link but as we looked close we were so pleased with the breaths that it took. Ness, I think we are starting now. Don’t tell anyone until the Summer’s gone.

from Zeppelins (Salt, 2008), © Chris McCabe 2008, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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