SARAH FLETCHER – NORTH EAST
Two weeks before the match, he comes home drunk
and in his stupor, talks to the wet clothes
I’ve just hung on the line. He thinks they’re girls,
and, next, they’re crows. He tells the widow-black
linen he fears death and I hold him,
a sweaty, slurring thing. He says the moon
looks like my white knee poking through the sea’s
dark surface, the time I floated on my back
in Portugal, just days after we wed.
I tell him he knows nothing of the moon,
then, feeling bad, tuck my drunk boy in bed.
One week before, we hit the town and head
to Malaga. Bodega to bodega,
he swills ‘Three men make up one bull, princesa’
and eyes the barmen; I can tell he’s looking
for a fight, for three. He can’t stop touching me
and I realise I am part of this act.:
the torero’s muleta, his red slip.
He kisses me. His tongue feels like a whip.
The morning of, he wakes at dawn.
He whispers ‘I’ll be back,’ then jokes,
‘unless I die’. I do not laugh and wait
for him all day;
I feel his absence through
my inner thigh. That night, the moon
spreads like a stain across the sky.