'What peaches, what penumbras'

By Euan Dawtrey

We saw a black and white film in the summer

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras’.

I ate sticky sweaty sweets

From an awkward sounding bag-

Crunching like glass shards against Doc Martins-

Your Doc Martins-

And you waited with one eye on the cherries

That you knew I’d save for you.

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras.’

 

They don’t do close-ups like they used to-

I remember thinking-

As Shirley MacClain looked across time

In one of those shot to the throat glances,

Digging her eyes into mine,

While you dug your red nails

Into my tattooed arm,

Ink or sweat or blood

Ink or sweat or blood in your hand?

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras’.

Was it Shirley MacClain that you loved so much,

Innocent like butter, soft like childhood,

Or was it Jack Lemmon,

The foolhardy bumble-bee, the bumbling oaf,

The sanguine revolutionary

The invisible man

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras’

I wonder, thinking of you with a mouthful of cherries,

Glazy eyed-

I never lied to you-

Because you were both, and I was neither.

 

We last saw a sad film, black and white,

No colours to drunken sense,

Headache-less we swam through

Shades and out again,

Into a cooling night-wind

Horns and myriad lights and hurried

Back-seat-taxi promises of sex and

Television

 In the cinema of my bedroom

Waiting like a prophecy behind the next step.

They don’t do close-ups like they used to.

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras.’

We last saw a black and white film,

In the smoky furnace, mid-summer high,

Good thing we kept from colour, good thing we kept

Briefly from colour, from colour.

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras’

We last saw a black and white film in the summer.

 

Summer quickly turned to Winter.

Summer was too quick to bundle out the door,

Summer forgot Autumn behind the Sofa,

Under the bed,

What’s that behind the cabinet?

Summer’s forgot their jacket,

I hear wind, I hear snow 

I made sure to tell Summer not to shut the door

So loud behind her, she’ll wake the neighbors and

Rush the cold in-

But I heard footsteps, too quick

Too quick.

 

So here I am with this lonely old fiddler,

Touching dusty prefaces with bitter fingers-

You, old man, with round specks

With a bush for a beard and birds for ears

With ink for eyes, waiting, like Prometheus

For a vision

Does your heart hurt? Mine does,

I’d take an eagle over this corkscrew any day

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras.’

Can I find what you didn’t in the neon aisle,

With your help, Old greybeard, Old curious cock,

Is it spread out in red like Rothko across my wall?

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras’

Snow collects upon my windowsill-

This orange tastes like shit

I’ve swallowed a pip

And the peaches weren’t cold,

They were supermarket own-brand and sour

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras’

But I’ll just keep quiet about the truth.

 

We last saw a black and white film in the summer-

I remember thinking-

‘They don’t do close-ups like they used to’

Whilst you cried at the black white grey

Love affair

That played out, like a mirror,

 ‘What Peaches, What Penumbras’,

Like a mirror,

‘What Peaches, What Penumbras’,

Like a mirror

We last saw a black and white film in the summer.

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© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol