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Rachel Burns: a poem

Friday night pub crawl in winter

Snowflakes fall from the sieve of the sky

like sugar, catching on the tongue

and melting in an instant. The market town

wrapped in the warm glow of the pubs,

from Hope Street to Church Street,

The Farrer's Arms to The Mucky Duck.

The smell of beer and bodies,

coats hanging damp on racks,

bars thick with smoke

and the whack-whack-whack of the snooker cue

potting the black.

Lad's banter and wise cracks.

Can I buy you a drink, pet?

A drunken lad puts a hand

up my blue corduroy maternity dress

to feel if the bump is real or just a pillow.

Fuck off! As if I’d fake that!

Eight months gone and the baby kicks like billy-o

as we dance to "Ride on Time". Kicks like billy-o as I drink Kiora.

Kicks like billy-o as we cram six at a time into the toilet cubicle.

Kicks like billy-o as we burst into the Bangles chorus.

Do you feel my heart beating? Do you understand?

I understand nothing but the feel of snow

and living for the moment

as we drink up for last orders

and the bell tolls Time.

Rachel Burns’ poetry is widely published in journals and anthologies. She was runner-up in the BBC Poetry Proms 2019 competition and her poem broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Her debut poetry pamphlet, A Girl in a Blue Dress is published by Vane Women Press.

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