The coal man is here again and from the flatbed
he unloads a ton of coal with tar black hands.
Watching from the window, we hide behind the curtain
and speak softly so as not to be heard. This is our world.
And I trick you with the question of which will weigh heaviest;
coal or feathers when delivered in equal measures.
But you push me away turning both eyes towards the ceiling,
no longer listening and miming your own bubblegum words.
I carry on regardless, telling the story of when I was first crowned Olympic champion
for pole vault and high jump and skipping. And laughing,
you ask about the travelling show of strongmen, or the story of the spy
who helped bring down the government, which I shouldn’t have really mentioned.
Or the time the Russian circus left town making a mint on the back
of my high wire trick. The coal man had heard nothing of this,
just the sound of bags being emptied and coal shuttled in until the shed was bursting.
We watched him brush down as the rain began to set in, washing
away the traces of dust left lying on the road.
Ready to leave, he posted a note showing the price including
the small discount I’d bartered over for some repeat business.
I showed you this but you took no notice, grabbing instead both my hands
and holding them awkwardly whilst squeezing the life out of them
in time to a song playing constantly on repeat inside our heads,
my first number one I think I might have said.