Germaine said "burn them" so you slopped,
distracted bus-drivers as you stood for your stop,
even hitched round Ireland in a see-through top.
No wonder that farmer driving the insemination truck
got the wrong idea - couldn't believe his luck,
but it was the Training Centre - all those eyes that fucked
you as you walked through the woodwork shop that
drove you to Fenwick's fitting rooms, the whispered tact
of the tape-measurers, the hooks behind your back.
Auntie Lillian had a hot pot going.
Cleopatra parked her bike in the yard.
She flung her bicycle clips on the kitchen table
and leaned to the mirror as she applied kohl.
Who's for a game? She smiled in her soft Cork voice
tapping the cards on the oil-cloth.
Her smoke rings were a diadem round the coal of her hair.
The women of the house called to her from the range.
We could do with a hand in here. Cleopatra exhaled.
Pauline Plummer lived in an extended family set-up in Liverpool in her early years - hence the Cleopatra poem. She was taught to play cards before she could read. Read more about her - and another poem, A Necklace of Acorns here.
Some are only buried waist-deep
and from a distance
they are trees holding hands.
He planted them
in date order - his first love
nearest the singing grass.
He has hidden her face
so cannot see
Helen Ivory's third Bloodaxe Books collection is The Breakfast Machine. She teaches in various places and is an editor for The Poetry Archive. Read more about Helen Ivory on her own web site.
When I ask her age she shrugs.
She is very old, her neighbour says.
The translator raises the palms of his hands.
Maybe we can calculate
using dates they remember.
A flood, fire, even times of violence.
So I sit while they discuss
happenings in their village and country,
then write in my notebook
We were wet from water fights
on the gold-slick patio.
Her tongue snagged on our names
and the meaning of her relics:
bird charts, china, teaspoons.
Now I wonder if at night
with a blaze of frost across the ground
she might reach for a husband,
just stepped out,
and dead for years and years.
Jessica Mayhew is currently undertaking the second year of her English Literature and Creative Writing degree at Northampton University. Her poetry is often focused around the themes of loss and memory, drawing on personal experience and family history. She is currently working on a collection of poetry with Crystal Clear Creators, entitled Someone Else's Photograph. Her blog is driftrook.blogspot.com
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
Tamed © 2011 Lesley Mountain;
Cleopatra in Waterloo, Liverpool © 2011 Pauline Plummer;.
In Bluebeard's Garden © 2011 Helen Ivory;
Evaluation © 2011 Fiona Ritchie Walker;
Aunty © 2011 Jessica Mayhew;
Copyright of these poems remains with the poets: they are used here with permission. Please do not download or republish without permission.