Trying to map you

Fiona Sinclair

I was a debt collector once: usual static shock
at some new revelation about your past,
a politician’s deflection to my When was this?
So more details I can’t place on your Jackson Pollock timeline.
Over a year you have wooed me with
ripping yarns of life as an engineer overseas:
rock star strutting onto Concorde twice,
commuting to work on a camel in a sandstorm ,
the gilded cage of 5 star hotels from weeks to months,
Then lottery win salaries in your pocket,
de-mob happy, no contest for you and your mate
between the UK or sticking a pin in an atlas-
Back home between contracts you took
the covers off the Bugatti, Norton, Triumph,
one finger to plods as you G-forced up the motorway
to your side- line turning Shepherd Neame pubs around
with clenched fists, a head for maths, Barnum ingenuity.
One vacation, you work a tramp steamer
through the back door into Australia,
police cells like an over-night stay in B and B,
steak and beers for dinner, when a visa releases you,
another of your chance meetings, chatting to a man in a bar,
who has just lost a British engineer, you stay two years …

Decades wielding tools heavy as training weights takes its toll,
a hope I die before I get old attitude means no savings at 50,
but your canny agent reveals a modest pension
you supplement by ducking and weaving about Sussex…
Your constant first person narrative infers
only man’s best friend for company now,
but once post coitus you disclose Oh no I was living with
Showing me photos of bespoke doll’s houses
you let slip this hobby started as a labour of love for…
Sometimes the ‘I’ does mean living alone,
sharing Christmas Dinner with two blokes from the pub.
Trouble is, when our relationship first began to close in on my
own background, my gambled Let’s not talk about the past,
was accepted by you with polka player cool.
Overtime as my secrets burst their locks
I expected us to both show our hands,
but you grip onto our contract like a winning betting slip.

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