‘Show a leg, sailor,’ I nudge her ribs,
wreathed in petals of sunlight
as the creak-cry of gulls splits her gummed eyes.
It’s always a summer morning here, even
in November; her perfume of sweat
and gunpowder pulls the tide below my belly.
Last night, I shooed away a final customer –
he pouted but he paid, attempted to remark
before her eyebrow cocked under her hat –
then she followed me up the stairs, whispering
astrolabe promises by the stars, a hitch in her swagger.
But she loosened her hair and her smile as my door
shut tight, opened her shirt, undid my bodice. I love
her when she’s soft, or when she’s hard – both sides
I know, and she’s the only one who doesn’t owe me gold.
Now she wakes: deadly, delicate. She presses her lips to my
breasts – once, twice – my hands smooth her hips, and we love
once more. But I lose her each time to breeches, boots and ship.
Kate Garrett writes poetry and flash fiction, and edits other people’s poetry and flash fiction. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Prole, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and After the Pause, among others. She lives in Sheffield, England with a folkmusician-poet, a cat named Mimi, and three clever trolls who call her “mum”.
*’Crack Jenny’s teacup’ is 18th century pirate/nautical slang for spending the night in a brothel. A poem written to reclaim the term for a lesbian pirate and their sex worker girlfriend made me very happy.