“Your best letter,” he wrote
“Was the one with the dead leaves, but no words:
I love you best when silent.”
I can see the kitchen where I read it,
the windows dark with rattling sleet
beyond them coal, the pit:
my new home becoming home
with an effort.
If he couldn’t follow me here, via
written, descriptive thoughts
how could he know how I felt?
`Heartsick with sleet, I ate a hot jam puff,
read Chaucer aloud in my Norfolk accent
try it. You’ll hardly need to translate .
There you have it, proper and common nouns,
verbs, adjectives, a picture of me.
Minimise my genius, my normal emotional faculties
that tell me what is true about these dear particulars,
to only a clutch of leaves, you lose
even the thought it took to put them in an envelope.
Like an idiot I believed his love was highly
intellectual and would reveal wonders
if only I kept my mouth shut.
A materialist, and casually cruel
he spent my silence chatting up another girl.
Life resumed for me on a red bus
with a wind-down, black notice on its front
listing pit villages in white lettering.
My intellectual interlude closed its deep wound,
I lurched past headstocks, coal-filled railway trucks
heard gunshot cracks as the wheels split more white ice.
And him, his minimalist mission?
He got a job and wed the someone else.
I loved words, words fleshy, warm
and multiple. I worked so hard
I was accepted at Oxford,
far better than buttoning my lip, and getting wed.