The Girl Guides of the known stars
I should have been a girl guide.
I’m getting sick of these high street clothes
eating my insides, I should have lived
in charity shops, inside out, I want to learn the cost
of things after someone else has been at them.
It strikes me what might have been different
if I’d been taught navigation, martial arts,
BSL, Morse Code. I need that leather skin
of the people who know the stars
so take to the streets like nocturnal predators.
I want to buy my compass with stripes and badges.
Let me go at the nature trails please,
let me off the lead, leave me to dig and bury.
I should have been not them, but the perfect
patch of square ground, after they took the tent.
I’m going to put them in my will: the Girl Guides
of the known stars. I want it common legend
that you can find me in their prayer; the promise
to Queen and Country to do my best, to be myself,
to not get lost for a minute, so it is, I swear.
I too have stared, like a horse, over a fence
into the next field. I’m becoming tired of knowing
that the wind up my nostrils is a sign of things
coming and going. I have frozen from the inside,
not knowing who opens the gate, or when.
I too have spoken the language of horse,
said things with my back legs,
caused offence, spoken too quickly,
turned out my upper lip after a taste of red wine.
I’ve run my hoof across the ground
waiting for something. Now I know how to wait
like a horse does, knotting my mane in class,
looking very far into the distance, counting strides.
Sometimes I think I’ve come this far as a foal,
sleeping with my head between my knees.
The only things I know for sure are real:
the sound of galloping, never to touch you
when your ears are flat back, how to get near you,
how to dream in the back of a horsebox,
how to fall, how to sleep standing up.
When I woke up last night you were in my bed.
I’ve never been in bed with you
when you were alive. I was quite surprised.
I said you could stay as long as you didn’t talk.
You said that was fine. You said you were tired.
Before I went to bed I’d been thinking
about your gap year in America
and your tendency to start conversation
but lose it somewhere, crashing in and out.
I can’t be sure what you’d think of me now,
in my fake denim. I’m not even sure you’d think anything.