ANOTHER COMMON ROOM

Matthew Stoppard's ghostly poem brings the emotional act of accepting a partner's past into a physical reality. Illustration by Sam Pash.

Love shoved me in
and a gallery of shadows circled
to play pontoon knowing my game is five card brag.
I shook hands with one of the men,
feeling her skin across his palm;
he mocked my decade of childhood flab,
I crawled to the corner and cried myself thin.  

The boy who goosed a drunken version of herself,
faint and vomit-laden in a large garden shed,
said his father knew Nostradamus,
threatening to tell her all about my dud sperm
and when I will soil my paisley pyjamas.  

Queensbury pose, dressed in my sister’s boyfriend’s clothes,
I boxed each shadow, including three teenagers
and a one-night stand, then propped open the door
of her wiredrawn history
as she walked past the gates of mine
on her way to calm my fists.  

'Another Common Room' was published in our 6th issue, The Love Issue, which has now sold out. To ensure that you never miss a future issue of the print magazine, subscribe from just £10 a year.