This poem is taken from Stand 219, 16(3) August - September 2018.

Jo-Ann Mort Four Poems
How She Remembers Him

1. Knatchbull, Summer Rain

His wide, thick wrists. She doesn’t remember these wrists from their meeting in Berlin.
She remembers him, wrongly, as thin, even slight. His thick shoulders, too—she doesn’t recall them either from their first time. The two moles on the back of his neck. His broad, possessing face.

She wants darkness, total, complete. She wants to lose herself in sex with him, but she is too aware of him, of the light, of his ex-wife’ propinquity, of the rain falling outside on Knatchbull, the summer rain of August. The temperature barely reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

He gets lost on route to Oxford. They drive in circles on the motorway. In Oxford, he shows her his college, the chapel where he sang in the choir with a choir master who introduced him to Harold Wilson. For him, the rest is history.

The inevitable rain. They won’t be able to walk on the river’s edge or go punting. They drink tea under an umbrella. He apologizes for smoking. He tried a patch on his ass on the first day she arrived, but when it didn’t work, he said, ‘Fuck it, I’m smoking.’ And he smoked.

2. She Wants to Make Phone Calls

She wants to make phone calls, to Israel, to Croatia (she wants to call it Yugoslavia), to London. Just a week ago, in Derbyshire. On the floor, on a mattress, under a duvet with S. He recoiled from public affection, at least that’s how he explained it when she asked why he wouldn’t let her touch him with others around them. ‘Your trouble is, you’ve got yourself a Brit,’ he said, as they placed their things in the middle bedroom of the old Derbyshire farmhouse.

Downstairs, the family was preparing dinner. There were furious phone calls back and forth about the mine closings. They were his oldest friends. She thought: ‘What the hell do I need this for and where the hell am I?’

She wants to call Jerusalem. She wants to speak to her friend Michal about the peace process. Arafat is coming to Jerusalem, or Jericho, or Gaza City. She wants to make long-distance calls.

In the morning, S. places his penis in the crack at the top of her legs. He grows hard and then he turns her toward him. ‘This is nice,’ he tells her. Downstairs, she can hear people moving in the house.

3. She Reads About Him

As they drive on the outskirts of Oxford, he tells her about a college girlfriend. ‘She wrote about me,’ he says as he points to the apartment they shared over 30 years ago. She looks him up in the college girlfriend’s autobiography. He is unnamed, but it is obvious that it is him. She quickly dismisses the harsh comments as passion gone wrong from decades past. Later, she reconsiders her dismissal.

What will she write about him? He speaks to her in the third person as they drive along the Thames.

Each time she hears the third person interjection, she wonders: Does he see himself simply as a character she will create or as a character he has created?
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