I throw the ballpoint pen away.
She hits the carpet with her stick
and says she wants it back.
I offer her another one but, no,
she wants the one she’s always used.

I check my watch and roll my eyes
and marvel at her stubbornness,
her mad determination
to prove me wrong and make
ink flow again
when suddenly
I see a cross, a solitary crucifix,
topple from the dry nib of her pen.

‘There, I’ve voted Leave,’ she says.
But I’m the one who’s leaving,

spotting in her sidelong glance
the smile she used to aim at me
when spitting on a handkerchief
to wipe a smear of something
sticky from my scrunched-up face.

I check the panic in the glance
an old man tosses at me
from the mirror in the hall.
I shut the door and start the car
and travel streets
whose geography
I think I know by heart. I end up
taking nothing but wrong turns.




Chris Rice’s work has appeared in many magazines, including The London Magazine, Magma and The Poetry Review. Extracts from a memoir, Diary of a Pembridge Poet 1976-2018, can be found on The London Magazine website here and here.