Blue Plaque

Joan Johnston

Blue Plaque - in the Library, for my Aunt

Our Heritage: her office work,
the lasting marks she made
- ten years of afternoons
typing the catalogue, index cards.

(Her part-time job, being married
and restless; she'd returned
to books, her baby buried.)

Blue Plaque - on a Garden Wall, for my Father

Our Heritage: this wall he built
to last till kingdom come,
one fine weekend, May '67.
Procul Harum were No. 1.

(Visitor - you're invited to touch.
Be warmed by his brickwork, his suntrap.
Lean against it: the mortar still holds
the tune, him whistling it.)

Blue Plaque - above a Front Door, for my Grandmother

Our Heritage: this heavy door
- its grain, brass keyhole,
letterbox - she polished
each Tuesday without fail
using scrim, elbowgrease,
cream from a tin.

(Visitor - note how easy it was
to find this house among so many
- from the end of the street
a small child could locate
the white doorstep, its brightness
her landmark.)

Joan Johnston

After the publication of her Diamond Twig collection What You Want (in 1998), Joan was relieved to find she was still writing poems. She was asked to do readings, and did so many that first she got very tired of those poems, then began to re-visit them though, and to re-write / expand some of them: she has now reworked some poems from What You Want with new ones, making a sequence concerning bigamy.

Since Dogeater published her new collection Orange for the Sun, she has been doing readings again, and enjoying them.

She has done a lot of work in schools in the region, and was also writer-in-residence in one primary school in Sunderland. She is (still) a member of the Northern Poetry Workshop.

More recent news from Joan, and two more Poems of the Month, The Burning Map and Widow.

Poem of the Month full list

Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.

Blue Plaque © 2006 Joan Johnston: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.