The Mill Girl

We cornered the mill girl at the back of the arcade.
There were piles of boxes and the smell of behind a
Fried chicken or something.

Every second light was broken in the arcade.
It was where John’s brother said to come and find her.

John didn’t come in the end.
Because he wasn’t in the club.

Everyone in the club had special powers.
I was the only one who didn’t know what his were.
But it was my idea so I had to be at the front.

Half-way in to the arcade it had been like it was breathing
on us.
The tiles were covered in soot.
The gum on them had turned black.
And the pigeons were scuttling in ahead of us, then
doubling back.

There was a news-agent’s with heaps of wrapped-up
And upstairs there was a storefront with red velvet curtains
inside the glass so you couldn’t see in.

When we’d got the mill girl we came back out of the arcade.

She led us through a door and we all filed in.
I waited on the other side.

It was actually a huge room with brick pillars.
Bolts stuck out from where machinery used to be.

She was in front and all of us were quiet.
But she talked and talked.

Fuck‘ and ‘shit‘ were written on the walls.
In the middle of the room there was a pool of black water,
like oil, a sofa and a mattress with the kapok coming out.

Holes in the iron roof sent in narrow beams of sunlight.
She said, ‘This used to be an old mill.’

She had black hair and her bag was covered in black pen.
She moved her hands and I saw her fingernails were
painted black.

She laughed and turned towards me once.
When I came in range I saw her eyes were drawn around
with black eyeliner.

Her room was small.
It was in a kind of tent.
She said, ‘This is it, home.’
And she threw her bag down on the bed.

There was a splash.
I heard the others call out, ‘Come and look at this!’
I didn’t know I’d left them so far behind.

She laughed then it was quiet.
She’d turned to me a second time.

I wanted to say something before the others got there.
I wanted to tell her something that I’d never said out loud.

I wanted to tell her a terrible secret.
Because I knew she’d understand.

I wanted to tell her about the store upstairs in the arcade
with curtains just inside the glass.
That I looked in the doorway and all I saw was pink.

I said, ‘What was it a mill for originally?
What was it a mill for?’

But she’d gone.