I can see why millennium pink
appeals to us
who slide gender along a spectrum,
or perform or express
it, and are feminine and bold, or masculine
and sensitive, and we are hopeful;
we are carrying the burden of the future,
the wearying terror of it
but if they’d just let us take it, adjust
the weight on our backs accordingly, we
would be fine. They know that;
it’s why they are afraid.
We laughed it off, because we were,
we thought, grim black and
riotous purple, and this delicate
hibiscus, this Southern peony of tolerance
was too soon.
At twenty-two I thought I had begun to live too late.
At twenty-three, the world
was crushing the air out of me.
Twenty-four and flattened, the substance squeezed
out like orange pulp, only
the rind left, curled and petrified.
At home it was cold. I couldn’t afford the gas,
used to curl up on the sofa in a hoody,
in pain from shivering.
There was a boy I was seeing
A guy I was fucking.
At nine or ten, I would switch off the lights
At least I had a coat, and the movement
kept me warm. I liked this new chill.
Fresh and clear, my skin buffed and smooth
and tingling. They call it millennial pink, and I blushed,
I suppose, but I don’t remember the
delicacies of it. The colours surrounding me
were the forgotten brown
of Victorian buildings, the dull grey of Northern
industry, and the indigo
town centre streets, licked with twilight
and pierced with streetlights, living room lamps,
and the sidelights of cars that crawled
and beat Asian or Eastern European music.
There were women smoking on bollards, watching
the men hail each other with dark eyes. The smells of food:
Chinese Turkish Polish Italian Caribbean
all on one road. Beneath it all,
the scent of cold pavement.
In the bedroom there was a heater
that burnt the air on metal and
sent it back out to fester.
We drank vodka and tried to grasp
at knowing each other. Superficial and redundant.
Almost a relief when we got to the fucking, even though
I didn’t like it much. I had to bear down in strange ways
to make it feel good for me, and I didn’t come,
but he gave good effort. I just liked
the way his stomach depressed under my fingertips, how
his skin was soft and warm when I touched it,
like mounds of ash.
I wish I’d kissed him with less urgency.
Afterwards we slotted together in the narrow bed
and slept. I touched the smooth firm
warmth of him, and both of us
were a little less lonely.
At dawn we separated, him for work, me
for home. Everything grey and quiet, a town
still sleeping. Washed out with mist and early rising.
A lone white van. Buy a banana at Tesco
for something to do.
Silent house, colder for the emptiness.
Laura Maria Grierson is a freelance writer and an editorial assistant for Edinburgh-based publishing company Stirling Publishing. She is a graduate of Teesside University’s Creative Writing MA and BA. She has had three poems published in Between the Cracks (2016), a short story in The Ghastling: Volume 6 (2017), and another in Dark Lane Anthology: Volume 6 (2018).