You arrive in the city by Sam Payne
bare shoulders in a turquoise dress, walking in the shadows of dusty tower blocks past a hair salon, a bank, an Indian takeaway. You pause outside a pub & scratch away the midge biting at your leg. From the dim light within you hear voices echoing, glasses clinking & the soft static at the edge of a song on the radio. Inside the landlord is dragging a barrel across the floor, a rolled-up cigarette in his mouth, a constellation of tiny stars swerving the curve of his neck. Soon, not far from now, you’ll trace your finger over them all, name each of them & mourn the loss of them for over a year. You’ll discover he writes poetry & says things like to look for answers in the unknown is to wander aimlessly through diesel-fumed backstreets. You’ll tell him it’s good though you don’t really believe this, or maybe you do, at the time. You’ll learn his temper is always low revving in the background like a motorbike waiting at the lights & how the tenderness of a bruise lasts longer than the impression of a kiss, but for now you ask for a job and he says you can start tonight, and when you say you still need somewhere to stay he draws a map on a napkin, say Cal sent you, he says, they’ll let you in.
Sam Payne lives in Devon, UK and her poems have appeared in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Literary Mama and The Open Mouse. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Teesside University.