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Extracts from Amanda Sewell's The Appropriate Country



My late winter child,
sweet as a snowdrop,
was born in a hospital full of women.
Hampstead on his birth certificate:
no father's name given.

It's 1973 and the country's strike-ridden,
hospital beds with paper sheets,
they put us out on the streets...

My longed-for son,
perfect little boy,
plump as a putto, a week overdue,
no wrinkled skin for you!
I wrap you in pastels, kiss
your silver crown of hair.

There's an oil crisis; the country's bankrupt,
calling for IMF loans ...

Friends bring flowers
to welcome my bright-eyed,
long-limbed boy. I hold you close:
this is peace, ecstasy, joy.
I take you home. Alone
Our journey together has begun.

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Night vision

I want to go back
to that first meeting
with you (in your tuxedo)
and me, with my heart already
gift-wrapped for you, in my
red dress from Oasis.

I want to return
to that ballroom
in a hotel in a northern city
and watch you, vulpine and adept
circle the room, looking
for young flesh.

I want to sit here
with a beer in my hand,
on this my opening night, my debut,
practising the lines I intend
to speak to you, as my eyes
follow you.

I want to remember
the miracle of your walking
towards me, your hesitant smile,
and hear your cautious script:
native wit; your idiolect
as you talk to me.

I want to hold you
out on that dance floor,
a man picked from an identity parade,
with the pine scent of your body
and sleek hair, and the way
you keep me at arm's length.

I want.

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Crystal Gazing

You say you love this time of the day,
with the pier sparkling like a starlet
watching her reflection in the sea,
so you hold on to me, in the corner
of this room: bow-fronted, with a balcony.

Like a votary, I've offered candles, relics, charms
for your presence here with me,
at this window, with an oblique view of the sea.


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