There you sat in the pub, your face all curled up in smoke and you wanted me to smile. I said my smile was worth more than any of your boy poems. You said I suited the green juice of your poems, that I am the well-behaved sister of your mad girl. Well, I told your mad girl that I wasn’t having any of your slobber on my bed and she laughed and said now why would he like your kisses?
You drank from my beer. You asked for a cigarette, lit and God forgive me, but I opened my mouth to inhale you. Pub voices rolled behind our backs and your eyes looked at mine.
‘You’ve been in love with me for years,’ you said and stroked a fleck of beer from my chin.
‘Years,’ I agreed and gazed at your pudgy smile.
I magicked you up, dear Dylan to have this conversation. I went back in time and through all your poems to find you here, perched solid on a bar stool, smelling sour from the pre¬vious night and you’ve known how many times I have thrown your poems against the wall, your dominionless deaths and your Fern Hills.
And you said you didn’t mind where I had blown in from because I bought you a beer and gave you a few cigarettes.
‘A poet,’ you said. ‘Really,’ you said.
And you sounded like those taunts in my head.
Well, I am just as good as you, Dylan Thomas, and I’ll prove it too.
We were sitting in that pub and I told you that not much has changed between our worlds. There’s a war at the mo¬ment, not exactly World War Three, but it began in Europe too. Stalin and Hitler are dead but there’s another version now and the bombs can f ly for long stretches by themselves before they obliterate buildings with people in them, and refugees, there are always refugees… and what is the point of life, I asked you.
‘I don’t know,’ you said.
Then Caitlin broke free from her American airman, pushed in between us, grabbed your head and kissed it. You growled, shook her grip off, took her by the neck and forced her to look at me and said,
‘Say hello to this poet, my love.’
Caitlin plucked my cigarette and put it in her mouth.
‘Cat got your tongue?’
‘No, he’s got my knee.’
Caitlin’s airman sauntered up. ‘Can I buy you all a drink?’
He was tall in a white lemonade way, straight-lined with straight lips and straight eyes. He ordered new beers and of course you cajoled a cigarette from him.
‘Can’t take you anywhere,’ Caitlin said with her eyes on me then just as cool she smiled up at her airman who whisked her off to dance. She was all legs and knickers. Dust raised from the pub f loor and men watched from their beer glasses. Women too.
You said, ‘Let’s shuff le forth, you and I.’
You gave me that smile that your mother never stopped loving.