Wine on His Breath
Updated: Mar 16, 2021
I remember the first time he took me home, into the house that was theirs.
Who was I? A relative or colleague? Not dressed like I was, a wolf in whore’s clothing, staining their seemingly wholesome Hampstead house.
I avoided her side of the sink, blinkers on to the makeup and moisturiser because I was there to do what she could not.
I remember the first time he kissed me with wine on his breath. I remember the fear hammering like that of a tiny mouse clenched in his fist.
The guilt in my stomach was that Catholic bile that women from Ireland were once used to.
Kissing his shame into my mouth so I could carry this burden for him, create an alternate reality that didn't include another one of my countrywomen.
I remember the first time he fucked me, how sleep turned away from me, like he did after.
An ocean of not too pristine bed sheets open between us that ended at the horizon of his broad back.
A distance that would never close because you don't think of the hired help that way.
But I remember the rent paid
The West End tickets purchased
The trip to Paris presented
The surprise payout after the death of a family member and the birthday wishes I still get years later.
And I remember he was doing what he needed to get by, just like me.
I remember that it was her chronic depression that was the real villain in their marriage.
I remember and I'm grateful for both of our survival instincts.
This poem was created by one of the participants in our most recent Creative Writing to Process Experience Course and published with their consent.
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