Lydia Unsworth


I bring my dialect to dinner parties and offer it around, until the plate is empty and I am blamed for dampening the mood. It is not polite not to give away everything you have. Unless the retention is the favour: a lathere’s no need to worry yourself over the details, everyone speaks English here anyway.

Ignorance is my body in a country.

It’s better on top, when the wind picks up (you can see for miles out over the dyke all along the washboard foam of the once-upon-a route you tarnished) You get to the weather first, offer out your flexible extension:

we want you, come in, wilkommen
We want to. 

Gentle fingers wrap their joints around the efforts of lost / loose mouths. Caries cannot be detected from the outside of another tourist. All eyes have started to portrait-haunt me around the room.

The moon is low and squeezed out marmalade, setting, as it does every evening, between regulated driftworld buoys. Its spirit-level resets. The wolven. The wolken. Quick tracks in sand. Clicking―                  Here they come.

Stock Footage (kick and spin)

Kick and spin and think about the oven you left on last night with belly warbling like some strange cosine and my arms around you in the green and how I have my computer in a bag and then I don’t and see how I jump with my feet kicking against my legs as if all this was water I turn and wish I was something else but the toilet dances nude and I drop and sing that groove because the heavy rise and shallow in the blue vibration sky turn twist flick those moves I want you too and touch my face and turn so hard and walk like slide jump and I love being myself this way the pier moves so slow under my fury animal my feet and she’s there and I’m going to punch her in her purple dress arms and oh! I saw disaster until the camera came and you do that back-and-forth alabaster sway and your hair lifts yes over your ears and smile shoulder and thump and vibrate and I’m dancing with your low grey and sequin order blur and gait dream legs turn like toy figurine and roll pink ninety degrees sharp cling glass bottle in my face you’re chopping bread and apples and I see the clutch of your waist and green tube lies out of frame and I blow left toward that fingernail with hover and the elbow and the back of your whole enclosure and look at me don’t pose or flick out of the green background through the unseeable perforation and we are staring at the IKEA lamp again because we didn’t want a television or anything to detract from our love and we are so warm without even a fireplace or a mantra and take me in your arms put your flat hand on my pink jumper and live and my your features I am amazed we have control a ball a tree a solid sense of hate because your spine is so straight and rocking so perfectly like a blade in a gale and I love this office and how it makes me perform filing papers in unseen trays I am one with everything so take me away cover my ears and touch me like you intend to want me I want you to rip open this polyester cotton and peel me out of this white frame I’m nothing and I move in such and such a way begin to understand the build-up and dance and the things that fall from me I go away to return to a basic steady oval I am commonplace logos and arches and bridges and changing and falling and curving and structure and you walk all over my body and across and under this perfect wheel and roll up and shake that rib in your pin-stripe cormorant smooth like wing oh god my thighs and I up and down and left and right and my fingers pull tight on the dark gloss frills and you wriggle like you have never seen music and my fingers swearing at my own round face and dive and duck like hand elbow wasted washing windows swim glass slice egg-timer stutter on the floor like my toes are pens trying to create a circle perfect without the proper tool and the tug of my shoes and lunge and I don’t even look like I am dreaming of being some young jean-wearing shimmy natural waiter walker daughter with my thighs splayed and my monster coming out of my hair in electric waves and cleavage making the most of you are trying to fuck me but I am not even interested because I have this way my head moves and the texture of the back of my skull and that beautiful thing I can do with my face.

We need more flowers

One in, one out. Death comes

at you like an unexpected email.

Mount Fidget at the funeral.

My view out the window ruined by eyes

that keep tending toward my face.

We need more guts, more flowers.

I want to go down with my country,

not fight, just watch it die. Palliative.

How does one go back in―

time? The fire doors, despite the absence

of any recordable fire, have well and truly ruled me

out. A democracy is not a democracy

if it doesn’t learn to throw some shapes.

Blurry in the ballroom,

it’s granted space enough for a mind change.

We need more guts, more flowers.

People are installing the infrastructure, slapping the paint on, chipping away

at the excavations. What happens if the schedule?

We’re family-back-home kind of people,

data-deals and monarch butterflies flapping over landfill like a torrent of ecards.

The city-makers have all resigned,

miles of traffic cones, sporadic and overblown,

litter our uncovered walkways:

industrial waymarkers leading to a single point.

I’m serious, it will be commemorated by an equestrian statue,

in the end, we all will (the men explicitly, the women implied).

That heroic horse.

And the wreaths―safe, easy, reliable―

are each presented on a freestanding easel,

a beautiful and touching tribute

to advertise your business here.

Lydia Unsworth is the author of two collections of poetry: Certain Manoeuvres (Knives Forks & Spoons, 2018) and Nostalgia for Bodies (Erbacce, 2018), for which she won the 2018 Erbacce Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in Ambit, Pank, Litro, Tears in the Fence, Banshee, Ink Sweat and Tears, and others. Based in Manchester/Amsterdam. Twitter @lydiowanie

Photo credit: Amy MacLeod