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Kissing in the Dark
Pat Edwards is a writer, reviewer and workshop leader from Mid Wales. Her work has appeared in Magma, Prole, IS&T, Atrium and others. Her debut pamphlet, Only Blood, was published in 2019 by Yaffle Press. Pat hosts Verbatim open mic nights and curates Welshpool Poetry Festival.
Kissing in the dark
What if you were led blind-fold into a room,
held out your arms
to locate the person selected for you.
What if, on touching, you assumed a position
suitable for embarking on your kiss,
When would you know.
There's technique, of course, may help you
gauge their level of experience,
sort wolves from fish.
But would you know.
What if you began to like it, felt that sexual pang
doing cartwheels in your gut,
What if, when you both threw off your blindfolds,
adjusted to the light,
he was no he,
she was no she
and you now knew what you knew,
what would you know.
Back to Rosetta's place
(after W.H. Auden)
It could be your daughter or your son,
starting uni in their city of dreams.
They get drunk on pints and shots,
stagger back to Rosetta's attic flat.
Rosetta is so up for this, vodka lips
all over his like a glass pressing optics
for another and another on the rocks,
until he seems spent, an empty bottle.
She tries him with another boozy kiss,
gets nothing back but boy who needs
his sleep, his mum to tuck him up.
Now Rosetta is one screwed up little girl
with a boy who just wouldn't, couldn't,
even if he'd really wanted to. Rosetta
thought one flash of her pulling power
was her modern girl emancipation.
Later, when dawn dawns on our boy,
he is stiff from lying on that sofa.
She offers ironic black caffeine from
chipped mugs, some cold stale toast.
He can't believe he even looked at her,
Rosetta hung over like an ancient stone,
her meaning obscured in smudged
mascara and bad next morning breath.
She can't really remember why he's here,
knows he didn't deliver, never came up
with the goods to validate her smile,
to make her feel like anything at all.
This was the only place she felt at peace,
our Mary, in her haphazard back garden.
She loved to tend it, plant things to grow,
fashioned a path like a rosary from stones.
She rubbed slate together trying for sparks
but found instead she could draw patterns.
Mary avoided cracks and spaces between,
afraid she might disappear. She lingered
on the flat rounds, safe holy wafer discs,
dissolved old troubles on her salty tongue.
At the end of the garden, a rotting wooden
shed for self-harm and tears on bad days.
She never could understand how the hell
she was supposed to hear the sea in shells.
Come to me my sister, hormone
cocktail in your hand. Come now,
Come to me cock-sure or sewn;
vaginal duplicity is your choice,
Come to me sister in your dress,
your shirt and tie, your nakedness.
Come to me bleeding or bone dry;
comfort yourself with acceptance.
Come to me sister and I will try
to understand your latest brand.
Come to me sister, hold my hand,
I draw a blue-black line under my eyes,
trace it across the tattoo on my left arm.
I watch it slide down the veins of my leg,
to settle in a grey graffiti pool by my feet.
That’s quite some journey I say out loud,
so the man on the train looks up from
his screen and glares at me like a priest.
My thin mouth flashes a penance smile
back at him and he absolves me I think.
That’s quite some journey I say silently
so the man in my dream looks up from
his book and smiles at me like a friend.
My full mouth offers him a lover’s kiss
which surely changes something I think.
I draw a blue-black line under everything.
To be using this blade was a surprise to her,
an unexpected adventure into male grooming.
She drew it across her shin first; more familiar
territory, especially in summer or for swimming.
Little bits of her flaked off like dandruff
or almonds, until she had collected quite a pile.
But he was telling her to shave like a man, to be
smooth and glistening. She would do this for him.
She would wet her cheek, soap up, fix a new blade,
bleed pearls of honey for him to lick with his tongue.
Time was, when completing forms, you could choose from male, female, prefer not to say. These days, quite rightly, the choice extends to ten or more options. Gender can be a confusing spectrum and these poems attempt to explore some of that confusion, touching upon the role of parents, the power struggle in relationships and the significance of the female perspective in religion, sport and social politics.
“’Kissing in the Dark‘ considers what it is to be a girl, to be a woman in a changing body in a changing world.
Poems where myth is made flesh; tattooed, hard-kissed
and razor-cut. Edwards’ voice is clear and honest;
sometimes angry but most of all, kind.”
“These are poems which show us the small miracles and frustrations of our lives. Pat Edwards gives us subjects like feminism and religion and wraps them up in her own unique style so we feel our own guilts and triumphs with her.
Pat Edwards’ voice is strong throughout and has us
questioning ourselves, our defaults and our identity,
so that we begin to think we might all be
‘Kissing in the Dark’.”