by Chris Clarke


in an indigo villa on a Portuguese hillside, you drink rough red and play charades. Pheromones of night jasmine and ivory frangipani drift from the terrace through open doors. Her soft lips offer the answer just to you, never say never signs from her mouth, and hope takes a seat in the game.

Early in the evening, she floats in a blue-tiled pool that dances with plump drops of spring rain. You brush aside her damp hair and supplant the answer with a question on the curve of her neck. Stepping from her pedestal onto the crisp white sheets, she succumbs to the ocean breeze and your Sappho touch. She whispers, how can I live without this. Warm blood flows to thaw a swelling heart and dawn lights your open window. In time you sprawl across the


of the Ikea bed in her flat off the Fulham Palace Road and talk of love. Around the corner, in the Slug and Lettuce on a Saturday afternoon, you share dry white wine and sparkling words and wet kisses. You walk home, arm-in-arm, and make love until the Sunday papers arrive and sleep long past noon.

One summer’s day, you knock on the door holding more than a tooth brush, and lives become one. Your days are full of mingled laundry and laughs of joy, half-empty bottles that clog the bathroom, and cries of anguish. The seasons pass while no one counts.

Out of the blue on a windy morning, appears breakfast in bed because her fabulous new job begins tomorrow. There are late nights and working weekends, journeys to Morocco and the mountains of Atlas. Her uncharted travels cross the course of another’s Sappho touch.

The desert sirocco steals her away, and your tale of a thousand nights fades into one. Now she wears the scent of shame and her shoulders sag at the burden of deceit. Secretly you know, but lie to yourself because you love her, and are blind to the inevitable


on a muddy towpath by the Thames where you walk in silence and play charades. Cold sleet threatens to shred the last hope of autumn. Hard lips refuse to answer the questions you ask. Tainted nothings slip from her mouth. You sob, how can you do this, and your friable heart drips blood. To a gray sky she turns, tears mist her eyes, and to ease her guilt she places you on a pedestal, hoping you understand as she casts you into the


where winter brings hoarfrost tears, and spears of ice grow from hurt to blame to frigid bitterness. Mean-well friends send you into the wasteland of clubs and parties, and she’s always there, always so content. Bile rises with the memories to gag any whisper of forgiveness. You retire your trampled heart, pack it in a Tupperware box and bury it at the back of the freezer you fought so hard to keep. Until

love lines circle

in a verdant…

Chris‘s odium-dipped quill has scratched feverishly into the depths of many a long and lonely night. He leads a quiet writer’s life on the edge of the world (the south western corner of Australia) in the old house he shares with a raven-haired witch and her white cat. He is a member of the Spooky Disco writer’s group and managing editor at