It begins with a barbecue. It often does.
Out on the front lawn, with fold-up chairs
and a puffed-up paddling pool,
on a manky stand that is never cleaned,
they cremate creatures and eat them.
The lighter fuel stink and the great swirls of smoke
they freely share with neighbours,
who stare and tut through laced-up or blinded
windows, from where they see but are not seen.
The food is lubricated with lager, cans in hands
all day, from early until too late.
Today there is some issue. You can see it in his walk.
He moves cocksure most days, straight back, pimp sway,
but today he is hunched, head low, arms just that bit akimbo.
His voice is raised beyond caring.
You can hear the fucks and twats and bastards
from two streets away. The children watch in silence.
She sits and smokes.
She has been here before.
Soon, after he begins to throw things, cans, food,
chairs, she stands and walks slowly into the house
and says goodbye to the father
and drives away, his voice enlarged by rage behind her.
Two days later the car is back.
The passenger door opens and he gets out.
He walks to the driver’s door and opens it to let her out.
The children emerge, skipping out of the car
and following them into the house.
There is no distance between them.
This love is a disease.
This is modern love.