POETS’ CORNER

Steve Pottinger: You Ask Me Where I Want to Live, My Love…

Photo: Unholy Racket

You Ask Me Where I Want to Live, My Love…

by Steve Pottinger

it can be the tundra, a desert, a forest, a boat

high on a mountain or out on the coast

an apartment, a terrace, a van or a castle,

a tent, yurt, or igloo, it really don’t matter

but it must be somewhere 

where commuters stop and stand

to marvel at another sunset

and breathe for the first time that day

making a mental note to phone in sick in the morning

where the Daily Mail declares its compassion 

knows no borders

champions the rights of asylum-seekers

elects a teenage single mom as editor

and proclaims the benefit system 

is the mark of a society

not afraid to offer help to those in need

when she hears this news 

Katie Hopkins looks like she’s swallowed a wasp

where politicians start speeches on British values

by saying they spent yesterday watching the grace

and beauty of swallows hunting over summer meadows

and they lost themselves in it for hours 

and the speech never got written

and sod it, it was worth it

and what is this nationalistic flag-waving bullshit anyway?

and when we vote for them they say no thanks 

they’d rather be watching the swallows 

and why don’t we crack on with sorting things out ourselves

we’re more than capable of doing it without them

it can be a farmhouse, a mansion, an empty plot

a hot-air balloon or a racing yacht

in Lundy, Fastnet, German Bight

Trafalgar, Dogger, Cromarty, yep, all right

but it must be somewhere 

where we never forget we pass this way but once

and every day is another shot at redemption

where the old and the weak and the dying

are wheeled out each evening 

to feel the rain on their cheeks 

in case they do not live to see the dawn

and each and every news bulletin starts

with images of the miracle of birth 

to remind us what we’re doing here

where kids learn about poverty and homelessness 

in history books and ask 

Was slavery like dinosaurs, miss?

and when the teacher asks them to imagine 

what it must have been like to bed down 

cold and hungry and alone

Year 9 find it so distressing she has to send them out 

into the playground to burn off their confusion

and over by the bike sheds 

Sally gathers the others round

and makes them swear that if the grown-ups 

ever invent a poverty again

they’ll give them extra double maths with Mr Jackson 

till they promise to behave

and then they get back to playing kiss chase 

and the playground rings with screams and laughter

it can be Glasgow, Cardiff, Westward Ho!

wherever it is, and wherever we go,

north-east Norwich, south-west Ayr

hell, Hull, Halifax, I don’t care

but it must be somewhere 

with a bee-loud glade and a pub at hand

where we drink by firelight, sit with friends

talking laughing making plans

where we’re up every morning at dawn 

walking through dew watching the sun

burn the mist off the gentle flowing river

or the rain hit the windows

or the snow fall

and all this won’t even cover the half of it

because we’ll be lying at night on grass 

under a blanket

listening to cicadas, 

feeling moths brush against our faces 

looking up at stars so numerous we can’t begin 

to count them

and you explain the big bang theory to me again

and I nod and say Uh-huh in all the right places

but we both know there’s no way I’m going 

to get my head round it 

I just think it looks fucking fantastic

where the world is filled with music 

and the symphony of silence

for an audience of millions and an audience of one

where Simon Cowell is on gardening leave, 

indefinitely

where we will make love every day

in the morning in the afternoon

whenever we bloody well want to

make love with tenderness and passion 

and howling abandon

and lie in the cooling sweat of each other’s bodies

and want for nothing more

it can be the tundra, a desert, a forest, a boat

high on a mountain or out on the coast

an apartment, a terrace, a van or a castle,

a tent, yurt, or igloo, it really don’t matter

but it must –

and you’re right 

I haven’t mentioned house prices

or the mortgage tracker index once, my love,

and I haven’t a clue whether the market 

is bubbling, booming, or about to burst

but the truth is that every time I try

I feel a small part of me go belly up and die

and yes that isn’t very grown-up 

and no it probably isn’t going to change

and all I can say in my defence

is that with a handful of cable ties  

a couple of rolls of gaffa

and a modicum of judiciously applied brute force

I can fix pretty much anything

and in my world that make us quits

because it’s watching each other’s backs

and nurturing our abilities

and covering each other’s blind spots 

that makes us strong

and that has to count for something

and this is where I want to live, my love,

with you, eating impossibilities for breakfast

growing old together

with time passing so slowly we barely notice

in a world we love still more each passing day

and where, when they wheel us out 

into the soft gentle rain of our last evening

the memories will jostle and tumble

over each other like water

and when we close our eyes that night

we will believe that  

we will wake next morning

to do it all again

that we’ll be laughing 

and dancing 

and dreaming

forever.


Steve Pottinger studied at Leeds University in the 1980s before embarking on a life making events happen and performing poetry. This poem is from his fourth collection More Bees Bigger Bonnets. His new collection Thirty-One Small Acts of Love and Resistance is out now and available from www.ignitebooks.co.uk.


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