“Want” is the latest poem of Siân Norris’ residency, bringing together essays, interviews, fiction, poetry and visual art to look at the refugee crisis.
An Art Deco Ice Bucket
and the champagne to go inside it.
A silk dress cut on the bias that would not look out of place
to Jean Harlow’s hips.
(the rumour in hushed tones that she achieved such line by refusing to wear
I want a rabbit fur coat to sling over my shoulders,
insouciance like Katharine Hepburn,
a beaded evening bag –
the one that went missing.
I want a two-bedroom terraced house with the bedroom at the back.
Shoes I can dance in.
Shoes I can walk in.
A study with an angle-poise lamp on a dark wooden desk,
its green-lined drawers a flurry of love letters and tokens and scraps of poems and ideas-on-backs-of-envelopes and old shopping lists and half-formed thoughts.
Fresh flowers, blooming.
“You have so many things,” he said, looking at my books, an eyebrow raised at poor taste.
“Just books,” I said, chin tucked in, defensive. “It’s okay, to have books.”
I want a first edition of a Woolf novel, signed like the one I saw in the Penguin archive.
To remember the names of the books I want when I stand overwhelmed in the bookshop, fingers stroking embossed titles, mouthing the words I then forget.
I want to like my hair,
to eat guilt-free chocolate hob nobs
to want… guilt free.
A vintage china tea set.
(“I’m not buying that,” he said. “What else do you want for Christmas?”)
I want a bath in that hotel room we stayed in
with the bath at the foot of the bed.
To fill it with bubbles that adhere to my skin,
and get your shirt all… wet.
I want to go back to that hotel room,
drink white wine and eat ridiculous chocolate.
I want a martini with a twist,
and for you to order it for me.
I want to walk along a whitewashed seafront,
your knuckle grazing the back of mine.
Your touch subtle because we choose it to be,
not for the other… reason.
Weighed down by objects.
I want to be pinned in place.
(Illustration by Robert Griggs)