Her Favourite Line

She’s always had great difficulty relating to people.
(She refers to them as ‘Humans’.) She found social situations
Especially the legendary Islington dinner parties  

More than awkward; more like hellish in fact.
Some occasions were worse than others; I always knew
Things were going badly for her if she started talking too loudly
Whilst desperately gulping down far too much red wine
And that the situation had really nose-dived if she started quoting
T S Eliot’s The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock:

My favourite line of poetry’ she would insist to suddenly-wary guests
I should have been a pair of ragged claws…’  

It never made her any more sympathetic and I sensed
It was time to leave, even though the pudding might be still to come.
And I was also aware that it could well be a difficult night ahead;

She could wake in the early hours, still drunk, with a migraine,
Start vomiting —
or worse — I might have to sit her on the toilet
Clutching a red plastic bucket while she vented copiously from both ends

‘I never want to see anybody ever again!’ she would moan.

But she has been a lot better since we moved out to Orpington

We don’t see anybody now. (Sometimes it’s good
to go all secret and just dislike everybody)

She loves going for long apparently aimless tramps on her own
Together with her five dogs right up onto the North Downs,
Trudging along in an old parka through the sudden cold rains

If ‘Humans’ approach the galloping playful Airedale she’ll rap out
The ruthless command ‘Leave it, Darius! You don’t know where it’s been!

It’s become her favourite line.

Peter Hamilton

If you have any thoughts on this poem, Peter Hamilton  would be pleased to hear them.