Rachel

By Teddy Hempstead

I wanted to know if you could possibly begin to forgive me.
Forgive me for ruining your life and being very bad in the theatre.
You are an American girl, rosy and another millionaire.
I am a dream and outside it all, a dream, a green light.
I promise you are still in me.
I promise that I will never own a spice rack.
I promise that I remember the red red rubies of the MOMA.
I promise the post-it note is very lost but very dear.
I promise I can’t look at pictures of you,
pictures of me, taken by you,
pictures of neither of us, taken by you,
pictures of neither of us, taken by me while I was with you,
pictures of neither of us, taken by me while I still knew you.
You are an American girl.
I am exactly the wrong kind of man.
Wedding plans:
South Carolina, veranda, beach, island? Clothes shop.
Oysters, mussels, lobster, salmon, fresh crisp cold.
Memories of New York and pastry.
Memories of Thai soup and bleeding eyes.
The Apple Store on Fifth Avenue looks
(in the snow, the pounding
blizzard, white, bigly snow
ice, sliding pavements, smoking
grey-haired Adonis outside a hotel)
like a giant ice cube. Empty glass staircase.
The threat of terrorism. Flags on the subway.
Barack Obama is the president of the United States of America.
I haven’t seen you lately,
I never will.
I never could, would, be anywhere but dreams.
I cannot remember New York.
You are New York.
Curled up in bed, a room of crust and girth.
The nearby breakfast shop,
the Dunkin’ Donut sanctuary from time.
The sound of you begging,
pleading,
suggesting we not do this anymore.
First love, this will do – bank.
If your first love is a New York heiress,
with a grandma who owns South Carolina,
then what are dreams?
Where are you now – I know, of course, close tabs,
my watchful spies, daily reports,
a last name emboldened with fresh spit and mist.
Arms of a blonde Adonis,
predecessor to that grey-haired beauty leaning on the hotel promenade.
I knew he’d get you in the end,
even if he had to birth a son, or go back in time.
When I saw his eyes hit you I knew he’d come forever backwards,
take you away,
but I still have my media. My unlost
videos and pictures, lost property and memorabilia.
Huge jet planes carrying me ardently over the sea.
The sight of the beach, idle guessing, the glow
(distant glow)
of New York City, coming at me, at my plane,
crafty metal snake shot from the sky to crash into your room.
Your new boyfriend looks a lovely man,
I hope he does not get
a terrible degenerative disease.
I mean it, why look at me like that?
I was always an honest man, which is the only reason you left.
There are some more things that you have stolen:
An American citizenship that I craved,
desperately,
I wanted, want, to be in Ohio forever.
With or without you I would love the sand, god, please.
John Kasich is governor of Ohio but
I would even endure that.
You also stole
the ability to endure lavender post-it notes,
certain smells,
the whole concept of coffee and donuts,
beds,
pillows,
sheets,
the American voice,
the American body,
the entire United States of America (USA to friends).
But I forgive all that
on small condition
that you do forgive me, let me free,
unlatch the gilt cage and watch the bird,
terrified, unleashed,
get ripped apart by distant crows.
You are an American girl,
the only millionaire alive I fear.
When will I return to America?
How will I live there?
If I go to Maine will you remain?
Texas? Idaho?
Are you in North Carolina – that one’s likely.
Is there a part of Arizona you’ve not found.
California is off limits.
Maybe Vermont, the windy bits.
Chekhov said “If you need my life come and take it”.
Well,
thanks,
you could have left an IOU.
Many of my clothes were held by you, on me, in New York.
You cried when I left – I remember it, you can’t take it back.
I can open my wardrobe and cry if I want to.
I have brown boots
with huge holes
that I cannot throw away. Thanks for that too.
Sorry for misbehaving in the theatre
and in your perfect life.
You are a hugely imperfect girl
but
I would have made do. I would have dared to stay for that.
I’ve just remembered the photo of you outside Washington D.C.
That’s it, you’ve conquered America, I surrender.
I’ll stay in England, my England, forever.

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