Bethany W Pope

The Beatles

You grew the beard because I'd bet you
that you couldn't. You let it sprawl out
as far as it would go, then you asked
me how to trim it down, closer to your jaw.
We did it in Tasha's dorm room, while she
sat propped up in bed with her boyfriend
of the moment, blankets drawn up to cover
their chests. I'd never seen you naked,
never seen any man naked (women
were another matter) and you were swathed
in that long robe you had, the plush one
which hung down to the middle of your thighs.
It was belted in the middle and the shape
of the thing, combined with the Grecian arch
of your nose and the honey-dark waves
of your hair (flowing from a centre part)
made me think of Baccus. Certainly,
the oil-sweet scent of the skin of your nape
left me drunk. I wavered, a little, 
gripping my shears as the shape of your face
emerged, slightly changed, and your wet-slate eyes
lapped at something hidden in me. I ran
two fingers down from your cheek-bones, and said
three almost negligible words. You grinned
like a knife sliding through silk, and ran
down the stairs and into your room. I burned,
frozen where I was, utterly transformed,
left my friend to her fumbling. When I arrived,
angry, on our hall I paused outside your door.
I could hear a voice, throbbing through the wood,
a song from decades before we were born,
'She loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah. She loves me'

Bethany W Pope has won many literary awards and published several novels and collections of poetry. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described Bethany’s latest book as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' She currently lives and works in China

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