The Barbecue (Royal Wedding, 1981) by Paul Stephenson

Mum was mincing steak when it started
with Dad’s panicked shouts. She darted out

onto the lawn, freshly Flymoed, to see flames
dancing, him charging across the about-to-be-

christened patio like a bull in a wipeclean
plastic apron of a busty bikinied woman,

his legs zig-zagging, his beard ablaze,
soon tangled up in bunting. The cold tap

wouldn’t gush so he buried his head in the
washing-up and Mum grabbed the souvenir

tea towel to smother him, soaking the bride
and groom, swabbing his forehead with Lady Di.

Back from A&E and a raw shade of red –
redder than fly-blown beef patties,

his cheeks were much softer than hands
that do dishes. No eyebrows for a week,

he caught the highlights of her crushed
taffeta on repeat, cried as he sucked Salad Cream

through a straw, played proudly with his coleslaw,
all for monarchy, and a complexion to die for.

Paul Stephenson‘s most recent pamphlet is Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press). Twitter @stephenson_pj