[For Kari Jeppesen] –
Johnny Cash on the Jukebox;
Walk the Line.
In a truck stop with bloodshot eyes, and all-night drivers.
And builders in blue jeans with arms as thick as legs.
And travelling salesmen, in cheap suits and frozen faces.
I wait for Mary;
pristine in her pinstripe pinafore;
red and white stripes; ironed down the seam.
And on a menu on a chalkboard;
white chalk, blue chalk shadows;
powder on the floor:
Meatloaf, fries, and a doorstop of white.
Spicy sausages with mash,
and a doorstop of white – with peas.
And the best seller:
Bill Bradley’s Big Blue Cheese Burger
with fries, and a cob of corn.
Mary arrives smiling through two layers of makeup,
and tarantula leg eyelashes.
She has a beauty spot
dotted on a plucked mole, and a stud
with a turquoise gem; an adolescent senior.
Soft rouge Mary and a cheap mortgage with no easy exit clause;
her man a distant memory,
in some East End dive with pool friends
and no money except for booze and fags
and pork snacks in a bowl with a Japanese geisha on it.
Mary, a beautiful woman, forty years back
now a retired Greek goddess
with the warmest heart, and the widest smile.
My father never did appreciate her.