Lives of F, Synchronised Swimming, Ed 1. (poem 1)

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Lives of F, Synchronised Swimming, Ed 1. (poem 1)

It is an old-fashioned August that melts.
The world still turns predictably,
slow and smart,
public services go to work.
Two well intentioned grown-ups
patter the lino of a co-ownership flat
above an asian Greengrocers
in a dirty midlands town
somewhere around the early eighties.
jobs are thin, money is God
the aura of flower-power
wildly fades, ghosting
more worldly cities,
far from this sunken doorstep.
Mike (31) watches Susan (32) from their kitchen
Playing reasons for her physical-slump in his head:
tummy, shoulders, neck…rounded.
Technical engineering is no preparation
for his wife’s communion
with the TV set.
Susan gazes fixedly into Esther Williams’ eyes.
The ‘Golden Age’ swimming star’s
army sisterhood
form fleshy spokes
jettisoning her
at the screen’s spangled orbit.
Her stunt is a triumph!
Members of FINA Synchronised Swimming Association everywhere feel wet in
Mike, shifting weight, adoring and tentative,
places proper coffee by Sue’s side.
‘I would have liked to have tried that.’
Sue nods to Esther, yearning.
Mike offers: ‘You could find a club’
then buries his head in the listings.

Mollified, Susan pops two Quality Street soft-centres in her mouth.
As she does,
the nose-cone of Mike’s
Viking, Portuguese, Jewish Sperm
launches on the shiniest egg
in Susan’s fallopian flume
and is, at once, satisfied
by hydro’ lunar impact!

Ding ding!
Baby F has become.
By dint of chance/gods/humour –
a surprise in Mike and Susan’s
hitherto barren garden.
Eff’s texture –
divine sparks, genetic snakes
throb inside the silky greenhouse
grafted to Susan’s uterus.
All cosmic matter, light, rushes in.
Susan’s heartbeat is the mother-sun
organs photosynthesise towards.
Food, safety,
is on drip.
‘My mother always said I had athlete’s legs’
Susan, playful, splashes feet at Mike’s face.
He chuckles,
‘That’s why you can’t sit still for five minutes…’
Pushing Susan’s legs to one side
Mike adds ‘usually…’
Susan frowns, narrowing the root of the matter.
‘I haven’t sat down this much in years’
‘I know…’ Mike muses.
‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me’
‘I don’t know…luvvie.’
Mike’s bear-arms wrap his wife.
as she remembers


the same kind of tiredness…
See, once there was another – the glimmer of a son
she felt his mind’s eye
wink in her sleep
but at six weeks,
he moved on…

F does not wish to be born
She does dream of it
the cord being cut
other creatures taking her in hand
floating space,
maybe it is blue, maybe it is black
F senses, it is no warm green-house
She dozes a lot, loses her appetite
perhaps out of carelessness
perhaps in protest
Susan’s baby stops.
Hours pile books upon cushions
‘She hasn’t moved for days’
Dr. Farooqui stares at his computer
‘Let us wait. This is entirely regular.’
He sniffs,
Susan breathes
deeply from blankets,
thinly from Ruth Rendell mysteries.
She surfaces for less bloody material
Victorian romance, the news
Stories are all sorely wanting
…until one Friday afternoon
Dr Farooqui delivers a monologue:


‘Blah, blah, blah blah blah…
the baby is not feeding.’

Enter Susan, horizontally, through double-doors.
Leicester General’s Theatre is equipped
as an ocean liner – blue-screens, art-deco tubes
ripple closer: students, spectacles, dilating lines
deep chattering pressure.
Susan has hypnotised herself
inhaling Strauss waltzes and clips of
Esther in The Million Dollar Mermaid
when a needle pricks her spine
a screen divides the reproductive half
from its dreaming leader.
Suddenly, bright, non-colour blasts F’s side
big hands disrupt skin eiderdowns
F executes a half-twist
the first maneuver of compromise
before a beginning.
F is prematurely lifted out.
Her tiny pulse beats
‘this is too soon.’
The mother-sun
casual as late Summer
is drugged
when F blinks open
a complex world:

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