The dark green dress tonight with the V neck,
the rhinestone earrings and a ring: pure gold.
You lead me by the hand into the realm
of candelabras where the windows are draped
in velvet. Loud, the tap of my heels
on the parquet. I'm trying to hide the tremor.
So glad when I can sink behind the menu,
and the wines – a separate tome.
I'll have Veuve Clicquot in a tall glass because I can in spite of the meds they have me on.
I'm on the razzle-dazzle even though pain scores my neck.
I take a moment and I glance at my fellow diners.
They all look uniformly happy;
no-one thinks that woman might pop
her head. Streams of bubbles line my veins,
are pumping through my heart. My mind
is a spinning coin. I'll learn to enjoy myself again.
Except, when I leave the restaurant, the outside
rushes at me. I gulp cold air. I'm steaming:
can't place my feet where they should go.
Don’t worry, you say, hailing a taxi. I trip inside,
my heel slicing the silk tail of my dress,
as if on purpose. The driver doesn't say anything.
You help me from the cab. I manage
to summit the hotel steps where the concierge
waits with a familiar grin. I fail to tip him.
I'm drunk and ill. Tomorrow I'll be ill again.
Julie-ann Rowell’s fourth poetry collection, Exposure, was published in 2019 by Turas Press, Dublin. Her first pamphlet Convergence (Brodie Press) won a Poetry Book Society Award. Her collection Letters North was nominated for the Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in Britain and Ireland in 2011.