Poetry: Crash | clivejames.com
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You’d lost your pearls. You told me as we slowed
To single file past churning lights, an ambulance, the rain
Reflecting red off tarmac and the shiny backs
Of accident POLICE. Everything turned raw —
From our slog towards a drug-fuelled last resort

Through drowned suburbs, dripping, wind-tossed laurel,
To the box without a sea-view, the over-priced hotel
(Its panelled Lounge, school-dinners smell
And Reader’s Digests, its walks for neither health nor sport),
Then this, the stove-in metal and approaching chainsaw...

And you had lost your pearls. For once, not a quarrel:
No, they’d shone all through dinner and still shone
When you fell backwards on the bed with nothing on —
A present from your mother, part of who you were,
All you’d brought with you when you made tracks

To here, your little something for a rainy day —
And What are they to her (the chambermaid who,
We guessed, had found them), what are they to her?
SERVICES. You made the call and looked like death
Warmed up by neon and I knew. They were gone.

The tail-back cleared suddenly, everything flowed,
You put your foot to the floor and swung into the fast lane,
The car held on, held its track towards the white
Pearl-strings and necklaces of London, you held on tight,
Tight-mouthed the whole way while I held my breath...

I could see you, naked but for your pearls, a cliché
I still tasted, I remembered making you a small
Gift of pearls that glimmered on your breast, your chin,
Then melted off. I glimpsed them in the windscreen
As the bright rain hit it and was swiped away.