cherry coke


dark blue eyeshadow – a 5-minute job.
you can tell at one glance.
she has matched her eyes to her earrings,
miniature turquoise feathers and sky-blue pearls
suspended on tiny silver chains.
she smells like apples and cherry cola.
she holds a can in her hand,
chipped nails tapping
at its metallic maroon shell.
she offers you a sip.
a purple smear of lipstick decorates the silver edge.
she laughs. the lipstick has transferred itself to you,
and she crinkles her nose.
when she laughs, she bites her tongue.
you catch yourself watching, and look away.
across the road,
a man and woman are pushing a buggy.
the man wears a big coat,
and the woman has a pink scarf.
they are talking, loud enough
that you catch the ends of angry shouts
thrust across the air between you.
the child is crying now,
but the couple have not noticed.
they walk quickly,
entangled in domesticity
and unknown bruises
and soon they are out of sight completely.
you turn back.
she is looking at you,
the blue smudge above her eyes
pathetic in the approaching twilight.
she waits for you to speak.
you could speak now, and charm her,
capture her heart and
write out a future for her
a future of sofa shopping
and frozen casseroles
or you could knock the coke can
out of her hands and run off,
leaving her broken
but at least you would not have to deal
with wailing pushchairs
and public arguments
tainting the taste of honeymoon
and toothpaste for babies


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