My Legs are Different

My legs are different. My left leg is thinner, more agile and quicker than my right. When I move them independently I become what they are.

When I circle my left leg I am a nimble girl, a bohemian berliner, sharp and wayward. I am Agata. I am orchids, shiny thin vases, pink and black, cocktails, shiny-kneed, snakes, elegant bridges, birch bark, death sacrifice to the ocean, silver lockets, rich acidic scents, hexagons, soft sneezes, mild colds, never hot, flittering, fickle, fountains, mauled by the lion, rinsed grapes, new metal, fine-tuning, blood pours out, enormous pure white clouds, precise pointing, lightning, tappingmy eyes are first open to yours for split seconds then look through you or above you and trail to the floor in a feline death.

Then if I circle the right leg I am an old digger driver named Bob from Gloucestershire… I am bread, oak bark, mustard, cloudy blue sky, heavy sleep, breeze-block, death in the lake, nutty smells, nostalgia, ravaged by a dog, light rust, blood trickles, meaty beatings, flush, too hot, summer squints, thunder, solid Georgian, vague gestures, musk, smoke, crumbling cheddar, apple white knees scraping, my eyes avoid you but sometimes they bore right into your secret shame then pull back into my own.

(by William Barker)


I went to stay with my uncle in remote West Canada, in the north of Vancouver Island. He was living out there, illegally, with three enormous dogs he’d picked up, hunting and fishing and all that. He met me in Campbell River, the town where the little plane landed, we went back to the hotel, had a joint, and then went out for a beer.

The bar was largish, with a long table in the middle; quiet friendly atmosphere, varied clientele — young and old, Neil Young on the jukebox (Harvest). We sat at the central table, enjoying our beers, chatting, catching up, then got talking with an old couple next to us, who were lovely — soft spoken, kindly types. Then some disco came on, the lights lowered a bit, and three girls came out, got on the table and started taking their clothes off.

Unexpected, I found this.

They stripped off completely, did some pole dancing, one came over and wiggled her tits at me, then her bum.

‘I think she likes you!’ said the old fella cheerfully.

Not a whole lot of attention was paid to all this. A few guys were enjoying the show, most just continued chatting or playing cards. And it was an odd dance too, odd nowadays — not at all porno; more sort of ‘sixties fruity’.

When it was finished my uncle invited the girl ‘who liked me’ to come over and have a drink with us. She was very nice, well-educated — just back from college, studying the clarinet. We talked about music for a bit — she was hoping to perform Mozart’s clarinet concerto. I asked her if she enjoyed table dancing and she said ‘yeah, it’s fun’. And I think she meant it. ‘Fancy another drink?’ said my uncle, and she said no, she had to go and help her granddad on his salmon farm tomorrow.

That was my first experience of Canada. Nice place.


(part two of the Canada thing here