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Marrying Dr Who

August 5, 2014


Marrying Doctor Who

by Abi Curtis

At first, he was bewildered, like a lost child
wrapping his scarf tight in the low light,
speaking with a querulous, borrowed voice.
He was solicitous, held the door open
with one long hand, offered the other.
Cosmic hobo in the blue hotel.
I liked his tall hat, his verve.

He was young, but too old for a girl like me.
Still, I lifted the phone and hopped in
for trips to Metebelis 3 where the people
had bird faces and clever eyes.
He dropped me off in Chelsea with a wink,
didn’t come back until I had my qualifications
and a feeling of space inside. His eyes had turned

from brown to blue and his hair curled.
He checked his watch, complaining
it was the second time he’d missed
the opening of the Brighton Pavillion.
We borrowed cash for two teas and sat on bluegrey
pebbles dreaming of the leisure dome on Argolis.
The most impressed I’ve been

is when he changed his name to John for me.
His blonde fringe shone in the light
reflecting off a distant blue planet,
where the creatures wait to charm or threaten.
One afternoon, he emerged from the bathroom
with a new face, grinning, dusting off his suit.
He was altogether easier going, rolling his ‘R’s with relish.

This was my favourite time. I was not yet thirty.
Well travelled, supple. He would look at me
and ask where I wanted to be. I liked myself
so I loved him: the curve of his panama,
his striped scarf, the sadness we both felt
at the left luggage in bus stations.
In a tick of the beryllium clock, I declined.

Wrinkles formed around my eyes.
The space inside deepened like a long fall.
His own face smoothed into one I didn’t recognise.
A silence fell in the library when
I borrowed a book I might never bring back.
I wept sand, straightened his bowtie
as he left for work, altering the universe

for the good. He tried to open a crack
in the bedroom wall, for me to slip through,
as if he might keep me between galaxies.
But I am not like him:
endlessly old, clothed in the blue
of alien skies, endlessly new.
I am only borrowed.

(from The Glass Delusion, 2012)

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