Two pieces by Deborah Bates

white ink (07134 258796)

there it sat – the numerical love note written on a napkin.
never had a 3 or a 7 shined so bright.  even to a magpie.
the 0 swirled like a whirlpool of disappointment, while the
winking eye of the number 9 mischievously giggled at
her misfortune.

funnily enough, the symmetry of 8 mirrored her
enviable hourglass figure, but this was not
enough to make him come.  
4 sugars dove into her latte, whilst the number 1 stirrer
rippled through the foamy ceiling of her coffee.
Evelyn had never much cared for the 2 step, but she would
gladly perform it with the boy.

6o'clock came and went, as did the regulars.
Tommy and Jane disappeared like the bacon does from
Tommy's plate.  (and sometimes even Jane's.)
the fish hook of 5 had pierced her insides, at least
the belly ache felt like it.  she slid down number 7 and
hit its blunted door at the end.  rejection.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pumpernickel Timeline

The smell of sour kraut on your breath permeated the room,
as your Budweiser belly came towards me –
the iceberg threatening the titanic.
Your fraying round the edges, old grey y-fronts
are the opposite of an aphrodisiac;
and the disappointment beneath them ever more so.
The young girl of 1971 found you
charismatic, and beguiling, like the ballerina ornament
in my grandmother's front room, that I so
longed to touch as a child.
The woman of 1982 found you
shaking with fear in the waiting room
of the building that gave birth to my girls,
yet still you were my second kidney.

This year sees an old man, lethargic
and unwilling to change.
Beside him, a woman who would
die before leaving.
For better, for worse her vows read.

Yellowish curtains that used to be white
are drawn around me, still endeavouring to protect me
after all this time.
The bed slumps, groaning as your weight hollows it out,
and I sigh as I get caught in the wave.
You pick your Reader's Digest of choice and settle,
as my Mills and Boon gets racy –
The climax of my night.

• Deborah Bates is studying for BA Hons Creative Writing and says her ambition is “to spend my life writing poetry bathed in the sunshine of Tucson”.

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