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Chris Beckett

Unsocked, unshod, a little like old fauns,

    sometimes we shower together

if the cubicle is generous and the shower-head

            a wide well-punctured rose,

and this action of lifting our faces together into the mock rain,

of washing each other or simply dropping the soap

    and plunging after it with streams of laughter,

makes us feel like Californian boys in a Hockney drawing,

turning our superb bottoms to a roomful of art-lovers,

while the water splashes off our shoulders in thick black lines.


Then after lunch, you lie face-down on the bed

            wearing only a polo-shirt,

which makes me think again of Hockney,

but this time the super-smooth acrylic portrait of his lover

    lying on Macy’s amazing non-crease bedspread,

in a pose that instantly reminds the art historian in us

       of Boucher’s Mademoiselle O’Murphy

            and her astoundingly bouncy derriere.


It hardly matters that ours are not quite as plum as they were:

    just to see them again is a revelation!

It’s as if we’d borrowed Hockney’s specs

           and his peculiar weak eye-sight

which makes him lean forward and study his subject so carefully.

Only then, peering through the weight of happy water

     that is the holiday shower in a good hotel,

does this wonderful process of artistic fantasy begin,

           pastelling our buttocks in pinks and creams

and turning us into our own delighted bottom queens.

While the others trek to the lighthouse

we’re walking away from the sea.


From Chroma No 2 (Spring 2005)