Mark Russell: ‘#8: Dance’

There are people in the garden. A man, a woman. A girl, a boy. I’m naked
again. I’m in my own garden but I feel ashamed. I crouch behind an azalea,
pretend to pick its dead heads. They amble up to the house with small gifts.
A pie. A bottle of homemade lemonade. Rachel invites them in while I creep
through the back door, dress, and emerge to shake their hands. Jim, he says.
Jim O’Brien. We have to guess the names of the others until his wife tires
of our efforts and tells us she is Nancy, and her children are Arnold and
Mimie. The O’Briens wave a removal van up our drive. Tables, outdoor
chairs, a sofa. There’s a birdcage with no bird inside. Trunks, cases,
paintings. Pylons are driven into the front lawn. What’s going on? Rachel
tries to placate me with a wooden board of cheeses, grapes, and strawberries.
I chase the O’Briens into the High Street. What do you want? When I catch
him, Jim gives me his card on which is printed just two words: ‘Global
Heights’. What? What is this? Nancy puts her arm through mine and asks to
dance like we danced in 1983. I say we don’t want you here. Nobody wants
you here. Jim’s face turns amber, then green. Mimie says Daddy don’t turn
into traffic lights. We want to go home. Yes, I say, Go home. Go home, all
of you.

Mark Russell


Mark Russell’s collections include Shopping for Punks (Hesterglock) and (the book of gatherings (Red Ceilings). His poems have appeared in Tears in the Fence, Adjacent Pineapple, Tentacular, Mercurius, Anthropocene and elsewhere. 

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