My boyfriend fake-proposed to me
in the secret garden halfway up the peak
when we were both hideously sweaty. I slapped his hands apart
told him – get up, in case people think you’re serious
(there was one other, wide-eyed asian couple in the drizzle,
thankfully not looking our way)
he goofed, raised his hands in
mock celebration, a parody of goal-scoring men who’d seen
a shot strike home. That’s a yes, but
like I’d eaten a lemon sherbet,
the weird fizziness subsided into shockwaves (descending down).
Silence. What if – this is it?
This is with whom I’ll spend my silences,
My boyfriend of X months,
a man who is the kindest and most affectionate I have ever known but
has his stumbling blocks
(still won’t go down on me, bad taste in movies, mad about chicken feet)
What if this, this lycra-clad
one-kneed, earnest ask is all I get?
That wasn’t real, was it?
His victory smile told me no, he wasn’t serious
and with a smile of my own, my heart
split a little. It’s scary to
parcel your days. Will I give them
to him, entrusted like a present
I trust him not to tire of opening? Will I mark time,
mark occasions, with his fingers fitting mine? Will he be beside me
when my parents die, when I’m maybe told that
children are an impossibility,
when I’m old and disease and incapacity come calling,
will it be his hand in mine?
He had wandered from the temple so I brushed down my thighs,
and rejoined the hike
My ringless finger flashing bare like a lighthouse missing its guiding light. I am a feminist. My poems speak beautifully about women’s rights but I must admit that late that night I dreamt and dreamt of weddings.