• Kate Clarke

The Smell of The Whiskey

I dreamed of you again last night

is it the Baileys I add to my coffee

are you tempted home

by the smell of the whiskey?

It's you, so it's conceivable

but, in truth, I know you visit

because I insist upon it


You were in your favourite place

an outside table, Mediterranean bar

a syrupy espresso

a clouded glass of Ricard

not enough sunscreen, a smoke on the go

me: iced tea, olives in a dish

we're talking sweet rubbish


"How many did you pack this time?"

you laugh at my scant holiday suitcase

"five bikinis, two sarongs

the essentials - nothing else"

you smile, and lean back to photograph

a yellow awning, against cornflower blue

I take one of you


"Hold on, let me tidy my hair"

you sweep both hands through silver

there's a flash of the turquoise ring

you wear for Jesse Taylor

you light a fresh cigarette for effect

and give your best Sinatra pose

smiling blue eyes


You were different on holiday

you'd sleep well and be so relaxed

almost comically so

like a soft-limbed baby

after a nap. Any pain would be gone

swept out to sea and melted by sun

"Katie, I've been let out of prison"


Then, morning traffic noise seeps in

and the halo of a dim street light

and now I know it's a dream

which will soon evaporate

so I hold on tight to your arm

and your temperature is so accurate

that I'm grateful for those details

the body won't let me forget


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