POETRY / Contemporary Poets: 24 Selima Hill

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The Independent Culture
Selima Hill was born in London in 1945. Her three collections - Saying Hello at the Station, My Darling Camel and The Accumulation of Small Acts of Kindness (winner of the Arvon Poetry Prize) - blend an almost sugary domesticity with

eroticism and surreality; her fourth, A Little Book of Meat, will

be published in March. She lives by the sea in Lyme Regis.


So this is what it's like being a wife.

The body I remember feeling as big as America in,

the thighs so far away

his hand had to ride in an aeroplane to get there;

the giggles I heard adults giggling with

I was puzzled about,

and felt much too solemn to try;

buttons unbuttoned by somebody else, not me;

the record-player

neither of us were able to stop what we were doing

to turn off;

the smell of fish

I dreaded I'd never get used to,

the peculiar, leering, antediluvian taste

I preferred not to taste;

the feeling of being on the edge of something

everyone older than us,

had wasted,

and not understood,

as we were about to do;

his pink hand gripping my breast

as if his life depended on it;

the shame of the thought of the mirror

reflecting all this,

seem long ago,

yet somehow authentic and right.

Being a wife is like acting being a wife,

and the me that was her with him in the past is still me.

(Photograph omitted)