Weekend

Weekend

We arrive, the working week a smear
of rush, a comet’s dust,
streaking out behind us.
Like too-stretched bubble-gum it sags,
separates and falls away;
dead skin in the space of yesterday.

We can consider the plump teapot;
the teacup,
the tea.
Today the milk can trickle, gentle,
not gush or plop solid.
We can sip,
not gulp.

We can pad through the house barefoot;
acquaint ourselves with our own carpet,
feel its softness on our soles
and hear each footstep’s triplet beat –
heel ball toe
prints just faint
and gone –
barely ripples in air.

We can climb back into a daylight bed;
live backwards to lie still.
Moments inflate to vast marshmallows of time,
slowing the mouth, sweet on the tongue,
staying the heart’s gallop.

from Slow Things

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Ingot

Ingot
for Edna

I remember overhead discussions about the acquisition,
serious, furtive; as if they were drunk on fairy dust.

My father would make the purchase on his Saudi trip;
my grandfather shook his hand, puffed out his small chest,
a sparrow pretending to be a goldfinch.

They could afford ten grams; the weight was paramount,
its purity guaranteed. It would hang from her neck,

an emblem of status, of hard graft, of a little Del Boy swank.
Everyone was rather pleased with themselves back then.
So I knew the strange word ‘ingot’ at a young age.

A smooth oblong bar with the face of Fortuna;
like a dazzling sea maiden, serene in profile,

with grain and coin spilling from her headdress –
the crest of their retirement, their harvest.
On the reverse the provenance and assay:

four nines fine, and Suisse; solid, bullion-true.
My grandmother wore it often, drenched in Youth Dew;

exotic at parties like an old Cleopatra dripping gold.
Her hair never greyed; the ingot never tarnished,
just seemed a shade too bright against her ashening skin.

My mother got her cameos, those strange translucent ladies;
I don’t know who got the opals; too much milk, too little fire.

I got the ingot, small heavy slab of satisfaction,
like a plundered chunk of cheese or slathered butter,
as she was before she thinned to whey and water.

Commended, Ware Poets 2016

 

Loss

Loss

We went to see The English Patient because I fancied Ralph Fiennes.
Not long after you bought me a copy of Herodotus;
establishing and mocking us, it smelt of age and charity shops.
I never tucked special things in it though; I had my shoeboxes.

Your college room was snug. Mine was big and square, but cold.
Your sloping ceilings and skylight were cupped hands round butterflies;
the small sill deep enough for the jelly bowl, while it set,
by your Dennis Bergkamp mug that had lost its handle.

We took pictures of each other pulling faces – I had never done that,
dismantled my best smile, crossed my eyes, poked out my tongue.
You cut yourself shaving – a photo of blood cutting through foam,
a crimson fork jagged in a white sky.

We made each other laugh; you wore a dress at my girls’ tea party,
I wore long skirts with no knickers while we did laundry together.
I loved your places. Your parents’ house, your bedroom,
your horrible home town. So I made them mine.

Commended, The Ver Prize 2016