‘A flourish of strumpets’ is the collective noun for prostitutes,
someone says across the table.
Earlier she had been walking
and noticed the earth under her feet
stretched all the way around in a multicoloured ball
that was bouncing around
in the slow motion pinball machine of the Universe.
A star exploded somewhere
and a hundred years later she could see it
but inside her, it took less than a second
for nerve impulses
to register in her brain.
While walking
she saw a woman
with a face wrinkled like the prunes on her breakfast
and she suffered the thought
‘one day that is me!’
She wondered at the woman’s puckery smile
and what music she may have liked
because everyone seems to like different music
and some was playing in the girl’s head
who wasn’t really a girl but breaking into womanhood
and the music seemed like the soundtrack
to a feeling she couldn’t quite describe
but the guitar could.
In all these moments there flashed by
stones, which would outlast literature,
and grass, that would disintegrate
like humanity or even the most memorable song,
because everything would be nothing one day.
She thought of her boyfriend
and the blast of heat inside her
that he inspired
and the moment of the memory
was almost as good as the moments themselves
when they are together
but with an emptiness
a missing
that is to be filled
when after someone mentions ‘a flourish of strumpets’
he appears behind her,
silhouetted by the beer sign
in black and smiling.
And the girl feels the vertigo
of being upside-down on the planet
so her arms grip him tight.

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