Joy Howard

Old Acquaintance

Lust    my old friend    where
are you?    I’ve thought I haven’t
needed you    in fact I’ve been thinking of you
as getting to be a bit of a tiresome nuisance
always popping round    and demanding a cup
of sugar    twist of salt    spoonful of honey
in fact I’ve rather begun to dread your knock
sending a small lurch through my pulse and into the pit
of my stomach

Once you used to make me feel alive
now you remind me I’m growing older    needing
my store cupboard filled with sweet preserves
especially in these days of tightening belts
with rationing upon us again

Getting down to it I’ve been quite angry with you
you’ve caused    a lot of trouble between
me and her    she doesn’t like you
finds you too insistent    too intense
I’ve had to bolt the door on you    not hear you
make you go away

Of course I miss you sometimes
as I hold her    soft and smelling of roses
but I’ve got to stop wanting to plunder
her shelves    empty her store or what with you
and me arriving after dark and into devouring everything
there’ll be nothing left for winter

But now that your perseverance has become
so faint and uninsistent    look what’s happening
I miss you    I want you
banging at my door like there’s no tomorrow
I want to sit you at my table    feast in abandon
fall to    like the nights were not
drawing in

It’s come to this    I think I owe you an apology
it doesn’t do to give up on old friends for
a lover    maybe in time she’ll grow to like you
so when you next come calling  (I’ll know it’s you)
I promise to be there    and please
would you make it soon

Joy Howard set up Grey Hen Press, with the aim of showcasing the work of older women, in 2007. She has been writing poetry for many years; her poems have featured in anthologies and magazines, and can be found online at Guardian Unlimited and poetry p f. Her collection Exit Moonshine was published in 2009.