My Year of Culture After Kathleen Ossip

by David Briggs

We’re walking home late from the theatre,
my lover and I. She’s wearing pearls
and a linen trouser- suit ? it was a ‘well-made’ play.
Sweetheart, I say,
the writer drank snake blood for inspiration.
She flicks her tongue.
We’re lying in bed reading the supplements,
my lover and I. I’m wearing yellow socks;
the D.A.B. can’t find a signal ? she hopes I kept the receipt.
Ma cherie, I say,
the static you hear between stations is an echo from the Big Bang.
She grapples the bed-clothes.
We’re in the Blake room at Tate Britain,
my lover and I. She’s using her catalogue
as a fan ? it’s the hottest May since records began.
Hey, she says,
there’s nothing shameful about going naked.
I loosen my tie.
We’re drinking gins with tonic in the Opera House,
my lover and I. I’m wearing a russet silk suit
with matching Turk’s head cufflinks – we’ve seen Otello.
Sweetheart, I say,
would you take a pill that healed existential doubt?
She whistles through her teeth.
We’re in a gondola on the Grand Canal,
my lover and I. She’s wearing white jeans
and Ray-Bans ? we arrived by train from Milan.
Hey, the gondolier says,
you want I show you the house of Lord Byron?
We shrug. We’ve seen it before.
We’re in the front row at a reading
by the next great Oulipo stylist,
my lover and I. She’s wearing yellow culottes
and orange Converse All-Stars – everyone here’s a writer.
Hey, she whispers,
what’s the optimum lexical density of a reading?
The poet delivers a poem made of snarls.