• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 09
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The track marks on your tape

I put Joni on for you that evening, one summer in the 80s,
The first time we met, when I wasn't supposed to be meeting you
But my friend who wasn't there, so it was you
Opening the door, smiling; the way things start.
You invited me in, and
I served you the martini I'd brought along.
The red liquid shimmering, on the rocks,
We kicked our DMs off, sitting down on the futon,
Feeling the soft Indian bedspread beneath our hands,
Resting our backs against the wall,
And I lost myself in your eyes,
As Joni sang 'a case of you'.

Another evening in your room, Transvision Vamp was playing as I arrived,
You served me vodka, the transparent liquid echoing
The unadorned fluorescent lights above our heads, until you turned them off.
Then it was just us two, in the dark,
And those words, 'baby I don't care',
Loud and harsh, screaming music filling the air, as you reached out
And soon we were a tangle of brown limbs, by the time the tape stopped.
You paused, pressed play once more.


The track marks on your tape

You loved that tape; you played it all the time.
Though I never really listened to the words, not that first time
When the tape was just a backing track as we lay entwined in each other’s arms.
Later, when you asked me to move in with you, our tapes lived side by side,
Then we played your Bowie and the Petshop Boys,
Voices of ambiguous boys in the city, interspersed with
My Tracy Chapman and Tanita Tikaram, the softer
Sounds of female voices, echoing ours.

And this was how we lived together,
Listening to music on a tape player in the kitchen,
Me chopping and stirring soup, or kneading bread,
We'd chat as carrot and coriander bubbled on the hob,
And the smell of rye bread baking heated the air.
I'd feel happy, my heart had found a home with yours,
Like our pillows nestled together upstairs, on the bed. Though sometimes
When I'd say something and you hadn't answered, I'd turn and see you:
Shooting up behind me at the kitchen table, your eyes somewhere else.
Then my heart hurt.

Everything that could go wrong went wrong.
I don't want to remember your absence in heroin: the track marks, the lies.
All that's left is the tape you sent me long after I'd left,
Your sorry, the list of song titles written neatly on the card folded around
The tape, the titles of tracks, of other people's words.


The track marks on your tape

Everything that could go wrong went wrong, I know, but even so,
When I come across your tape, each time I move,
In between the packing boxes, I'll put the tape back in, and press play.
Then hearing the sound of the songs,
You're back momentarily as a track plays out,
I mean how you were before I listened,
Before I understood the track marks on your tape and that
Everything that could go wrong would.