Paula Cunningham


In this his apocryphal pre-incarnation I have him in nightgown and cap

clutching a candlestick, big Willie Winkie cack-handed with drink,

he soft-shoes, manoeuvres himself in behind her, just as the first of his hic-

cups erupts, impressing the spoon of himself on her echoing form,                       

more stirred by the whiff of her, dizzy with ale, his left arm walloping

over her waist, but missing and squeezing too hard, less hug than thrust

just under the breastbone he loves so her wrought silver denture   

(three upper incisors avulsed in a fall from a horse and hitherto

hidden) wings forth on that sudden upshot of air, abrupt                       

as an utterance too long held, and rings on the earthenware pitcher,

hic hic, her rhythm disrupting before her breath settles and young

Mrs Heimlich recovers the gist of her dream.