Although I sat down to drink with you,
the woman who led me away
from the roar of the brandy-tables
knew these twisting streets too well.
She looked back once, cocking her head,
then sprang up the recession of steps
with a laugh that resembled yours,
only a detail more cruel.
The blue-painted nail on her finger
traced the belly like a little boat,
showing my tongue where to work
as her gaze turned to stone.
When she cried out I heard
the keening of the harbour cats,
shutters closed in quick succession,
then voices raised behind them.
Though it was you I woke with,
I wonder now who brought me home
to this room last night to relive
her repertoire of shameless acts.
The way they look at you today,
as you hang the sheets up in the sun,
is half desire, half contempt.
The one they’d driven out is back.