Crippen

I like my wallpaper pale.
As pale as an onion, boiled, perhaps,
until the leaves are as pale as nail.

I have worn all the neckties she chose
until I was ravenous for their absence.
Ravenous. There is a bud
in a glass, here, beside me,
magnified like a garden. It is too much.
It gives me an ache,
and the ache is pale pink.

My statements are written in sepia.
Dictated to the inspector. Between
the painless extraction
of patient teeth. They touch
the tray, like the distant tocks of a time-piece,
a lost chronometer.

When I make love to Ethel,
her limbs are like linen. I feel my beating
heart, as if hearing roses fainting in heat.
She was my typist. Now we leave
for a charity dinner and dance.

The ocean is fat. We are anonymous,
swallowed by the gulp and thrum
of the waves. Mr and Master Robinson.
I show her the steps. She looks
a dream, an improbable nephew, my love.

I will paint all Canada pale,
as pale as a window drenched with rain.
Waltz. I show her
the steps. I do not hear
the distant, crackling muzak of the wireless.

From the book Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday

When I have a house I won't have green in the house. It shall be pink right the way through, for luck! (Mrs. Crippen)