Lydia is quiet
going down the slope
by Arrol House
and onto


Rockingham Street
Benedict says nothing
he thinks it best
to let her brood


until she’s ready
to speak
he's seen it
in the films before


where the female
opposite the cowboy
has her moods
or quiet times


and the cowboy
lets her get on with it
while he rides off
into the sunset


to fight the bad guys
or Injuns
or have a shot
of Red Eye


in the bar in the town
watching the dancers
on the makeshift stage
he gives Lydia


a side on gaze
her straight hair
seems unbrushed
her dress is creased


and the cardigan
has a hole
in the elbow
they walk up


towards Draper Road
by the blocks of flats
he says
(hating silence)


the parents
were rowing last night
something to do
with money


or the lack of it
from what
I could gather
through the bedroom door


lying in the dark
seeing the thin line
of light
from the other room


the old man hates
being short
needs dosh
to get


his best suits
and brown shoes
saw something odd
last night


Lydia says suddenly
looking at Benedict
odd? what was odd?
he asks


her thin hands
the nails chewed
my big sister


and her man friend
your sister's always odd
says Benedict


more odd
she made me sleep
in the tiny cot bed
which I haven't done


for years as its
too small for me really
but anyway
she made me sleep there


so she and her man friend
could sleep there
he's been turned out
of his digs


as he calls them
and Mum didn't like
the idea but Dad
in his usual drunken state


said O let him stay
a few days
until he gets himself
a place


so there am I
stuck in the cot bed
feet dangling
over the ends


just about room for me
except my backside
gets cold
when I turn over


nothing worse
Benedict says
than a cold backside
well then


Lydia says
after the lights were out
and she thought
I was asleep


I heard this noise
like squashy sound
and I lay there
with my eyes open


at the dark shapes
and hearing
these odd sounds


and the giggles
and snorts and such
Benedict gazes at her
side on


her thin lips
were opening
and closing
like the goldfish


he had which fell
 into the sink
out of the fish bowl
and its tiny mouth


was closing
and opening
upon the wet
white surface


then the bed springs
were going gong gong
then silence
as if they were dead


Lydia says
straight ahead


and I never got
to sleep in the end
for ages
what with them


and the cold
on my backside
and the trains
going over


the railway bridge
and the shunting
of coal wagons
so you're tired


Benedict says
that’s why you
were quiet just now
thought I'd done


something wrong
when I first met you
outside your flat
and you came out


with a face
suppose so
she says
and they walk along


Draper Road
to the Penny shop
where he treats her
to a penny pop drink


and 4
fruit salad sweets
and they stand
by the penny


ball game machine
on the wall
and watch some kid
press the buttons


and the ball
goes around
and around
until it disappears


in a slot
and Lydia thinks
to herself
sipping her drink


grown ups
are an odd lot.

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