Number 3

Remember days at number 3
when we had time to sit? And see
the raindrops coursing down the pane
and race them, giving ours a name?
Remember when the storm would light
the chintzy curtains in the night
and we would huddle in our bed?
Remember all the things we said?
and how we giggled endlessly,
when we were young, at number 3?

Poor David

She knew him as a photograph
A poster on the wall
She had a suitcase full of him
But never knew it all

She didn’t go to stadia
To squeal with all the rest
Because she quietly supposed
He always loved her best.

The magazines presented him
With silky hair and smile
That promised her the moon and back
And stayed there for a while.

Poor David was a superstar
Who sang to her alone
But never came down from the wall
To call his very own.

Window

At the window in my front room
I watched umbrellas go up the hill
struggling in furious autumn gale
most black, some red or comically transparent
pulled down upon a woman’s shoulders
to protect her new hairdo from the rain.

The Georgian bay window shielded me from rain.
I loved to be alone. That cold front room
with long net curtains wrapped around young shoulders
and the weather beating, shining or racing down the hill
was my castle; huge windows on a world transparent,
sheltered from the furious autumn gale.

Round I whirled, a leaf dancing in the gale,
moving faster and higher, inspired by the rain.
The net meant giant windows were transparent
only from the inside, so to a clunky sale room
gramophone weighted with pennies, I was me on that hill,
before the world could press upon my shoulders.

I smelled the musty net around my shoulders
and knew the world was old and furious, though its gale
and torrential outpouring never rested on our hill,
forming pools in parks where tourists pulled on rain-
coats and stirred coffee with plastic spoons, in a room
where an organ played and people’s smiles were transparent.

When my cousin came, we served homemade sweets on transparent
plates and put on a show. On young shoulders
responsibility for choreography and costume. Front room
filled with patient eyes, we would anxiously regale
our aunties, mums and Nanna with entertainment, rain
dancing in accord, outside, thunder clapping on the hill.

Of course, I grew up, and went out from the hill,
down into murky valleys, away from transparent
umbrellas, aunties and sticky sweets, out into rain
that seemed more inhospitable when it landed on shoulders
bent and bowed with the weight of life’s gale.
But part of me will always dance in that front room.

Meet me on the hill, put a scarf around my shoulders,
transparent rivulets in a furious autumn gale,
blessed by rain, with no umbrella, let us dance in my front room.

Cygnets

We are the lost girls,
the stars of tomorrow
in curlers, pyjamas,
with beans in our heads.

Up in the night time,
we laugh at reflections
and fight with green jelly,
abandoning beds.

We are obnoxious
and anxious and beautiful,
Gazelle like, Giselle like,
a glorious mess.

We head rebellion
to form a close union,
our souls crying out
to be tickled to death.

Splits

She did the splits and it was so amazing
how far apart her feet were from each other
we stood out on the tarmac simply gazing
as those elastic legs bounced even further.

Our teachers sought to grant us inspiration
they said we all should work hard and would see
that everyone upon investigation
has something each is destined to achieve.

So Amanda still sits bouncing in that playground
whilst drinking in the wonder of the day
when all the class discovered she was gifted
in a most unusual quite peculiar way.

Bathed

Alone in the old bathroom, I crouched,
steaming, in a towel, the warmth
of a recent bath rising from my skin;
long childhood locks lifted in a plastic cap.

While grown-ups thought I bathed, I took a brush
and scrubbed the bath to new. I drew with crayons
made of soap. And wondering what it was to shave,
cut my leg on Dad’s sharp razor blade.

Bath time brought adventure: a metal rack
packed with loofah, sponge, a blue dish
to fill and empty, clean and crinkled fingers
rubbed together with rudish shlucking sounds.

At school, where girls combined to wash,
communal ablutions diluted any sense of fun;
privacy and prudery washed away in timetabled
titivation. All residue of childhood Vimmed.

When chemo winter stole my hair and I was cold,
my constant comfort was a simple bath of tin,
filled from the kitchen sink. Lapped by life
I could be consoled by water, spirited again.

Walk in the Dark

Something lumpily is squeezing down my windpipe,
Something drippily is lipidicing life,
Something clumpily is clogging up my childhood,
Something slippily is causing me some strife.

A boil erupted on the face of my acceptance,
I am hampered by the truth we hid so well,
Walking evidence we couldn’t really trust them,
I am cankered by the tales we couldn’t tell.

Stirring Darkly

Though on the surface splashes only briny wave;

there is one regret,

stirring darkly in the deepest corner of a cave.

.

Though I pull my eyes from the oily fear I find;

there is yet something,

scratching saline places hidden well and left behind.

.

If I might switch and dive my life to swim again;

on that returning tide,

I would void my lungs to wipe away one dreadful stain.

In Memory

My memory is

a tailored suit black cuff button rolled

flipped and wedged between dusty wainscot and wooden floor.

.

It is four heavy old pennies balanced and stacked

beneath the leg of a lopsided make-do desk.

.

And then I may take the middle of a punched paper hole

scuffed and left by the soul of a Brogue.

.

In perpetuity it will bear faintest traces

of the stale scent of slim cigars

emanating from a plastic-lined basket-work bin.

.

It will not be wiped either

by its one string slither of a shedding mop.

.

There will be a sound too –

a sound insistent as a stylophone;

like the thrum of Anglia cars through thin windows.

.

And oh yes, its colours will always be orange – 

orange and bottle green.

Chemo Café

We all have our favourite seat

the men and women that I meet

whilst mermaids smile and serve us tea

and feed us intravenously.

.

In this cheery place of mine

bare arms are soaked into a shine

then wares are touted on a tray

the best we take the less to pay.

.

In this lively, loving place

anxiety etched on every face

my comfort is a cushioned chair

a pillow and designer hair.

.

In this café where I go

Life’s mélange is all on show:

black coffee corners of our minds

tenacity and mermaids kind.