Tangmere in the Night

by gm

Andrew Neilson


He showed me then the seafood in his fridge,
shelled and unshelled, all the slices and slabs,
the fretwork, bagged in cellophane, which
he boasted was eked from Iberian crab.
I watched as he took to the kitchen sink
something filleted, scaled and slickened pink.

This was her father—the girl I was with—
bearded, still thick with his Porto accent,
a man transplanted, given where they lived,
in a concrete block, on a council rent;
here, in the Broadwater Farm Estate,
where ‘60s Brutalism waxes late.

We were far from young love, but friends of a friend—
me and the girl, not her widowed father—
and life was still stuck in the shallow end:
being cold, as I was, under the collar
and new to more than this callous city
where I’d pitched up, searching for truth and beauty.

Of which I knew nothing. Nothing I’d read
readied me for that keyless afternoon
we sat on the landing, waiting for her dad
to wheeze up the stairwell and let us in.
Days after, I saw the splay of her hand
an inch from mine, as if printed on sand.