Conversations with women and remembering I am a pacifist

Peanut Butter

I’ve got that feeling, you know?

Like something mammalian has crawled under your abdomen

and then died in the ice age.

And is now perfectly preserved and frozen solid.

I’ve got that feeling, you know?

When you were in a warm bath,

and your body felt all lithe and bendy and right.

Then the plug got pulled out

and you just found yourself stood in the yard somehow, in October.

You’re all shivery and flapping about in the wind

like an old wet sheet.

And you know it’s not that bad.

You know it’s not the worst thing,

but you want comforting.

I am from a small, northern town,

and I’ve spent years trying to flout the stereotypes of that fact.

But now, to hear the heart-warming phrase-

He’s a dickhead love-

do you want me to just knock him the fuck out?

I’m ashamed to say, would be as comforting

as the noise of the kettle coming to boil,

or the opening strains of the Coronation Street theme tune.

I’m not proud.

But I am grateful that the sound of her voice

wrapping cut glass vowels around alarmingly filthy turns of phrase

is steadily thawing the pain in my chest.

We’re tucked up in bed,

and I look at her and think, not for the first time,

how her nose and jaw,

and the line of them,

is sort of like a poem in itself.

And I wonder if it’s shallow

to be glad to be friends with someone so beautiful,

or if I think her so beautiful because she’s my friend.

She reads me a passage from a William Morris book,

and I almost forget myself entirely for a second.

And then she says

drawing on a cigarette

the trouble with men, is that they’re all dogs

and they’ll lick peanut butter off anyone’s privates


And I laugh so hard that I honestly think I might be sick.

And she laughs too because it’s not true really,

She’s in love with a good man herself.

And then she laughs again,

because it sort of is true, isn’t it.

I remember this-

that fleeting incitement for violence

is just the need for some tacit evidence of love.

Of not being alone.

And I’ve got that.

She’s fallen asleep

so I fold over the page of her book,

and remember my ten years of earnest pacifism

and how I don’t really,

with any  molecule of me being,

want anyone knocking anyone else out.


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