Being Swedish in Pontlottyn Rugby Club

by Belinda Rimmer

Word goes around: Maria’s friend is Swedish.
Boys in stripy tops line up
across the dance floor curious
to know if my life is all sex and cigarettes.

They tie themselves in knots
to get close to me. I make space
between my lips to let out the nonsense
of pretend Swedish. I tell them of forests,
herds of moose, the way to smoke a herring.

The boys wrap me in their heat,
their beery breath, their rugby thighs.
They hang on my every word.

Later, on the train home, when I ask for
a single to Gloucester, please,
there’s a dead feeling on my tongue.