​She has crinkly hands

and grubby fingernails.

She smells.

She likes to fiddle with the rings

her husband gave her

they grow loose,

her mind grows loose too.

She stews over her daughters

who never come

and the sour milk in her tea.

She won’t go out now

the house is full of

old sweat and musty laundry

and bittersweet remembrances.


​I have a scar

in the centre of my palm,

a schoolyard accident. 

I was fourteen

a girl tripped me

and I fell badly.

The surgeon,

he dug a lump of gravel

from my hand

and flung it 

in a petri dish.

It pinged.

My mother was pale

and concerned.


she made me prawns

with a bechamel sauce

I loved the special food

but my wound burned.

That was forty years ago.

Now my lifelines run into a deep grove

at the centre of my hand.

A flash of pain

some cramping when I write

an ugly scar

to take me back. 


​I collect stones.

I love the coral-pink

pumice stones

the ground has

choked up.

I arrange them

on my mantelpiece

like masterworks

sometimes touching

their cool beauty.

My grandmother says 

gods hide their lumpy faces

in the stones. I see nothing

but I know they can

smash glasshouses,

they can brain

an intruder.

I roll them in my hands, 

feeling their heavy fecundity.


​I loved the fruits

of the north, full of sunshine.

Lemons grew there

plump yellow grenades

you could pluck

and halve

and suck out

the sweetness.

There were also plums,

heady like vintage wine.

We ate them greedily, staining

our mouths. I took a big stick

and shook the trees

till our arms were laden

with plums.


​I’m disloyal.

You’ve fed me

you’ve clothed me

you’ve kept my screw-up mind

from running off the rails.

I know you’re beautiful

but you give me allergies

and depression,

I’ve grown flabby

and pasty-faced

on your bounty.

I shall never fit,

like the others.

Don’t bury me here

in a wind-hammered bay

far from home,

I couldn’t stand the cuss

of the breakers

talking in foreign languages.

I should like to ghost my ancestors

to sprout like a green shoot

in my own ground. 


​I listen through the door

you sing a little phrase

a lilting figure

about love.

You have perfect pitch

you have perfect teeth

you come from the bathroom

towelling your hair,

flushed and steamy

softly humming the words.  


​You made me eggs

they were always silky.

I watched you stand over

the pan, with your fish slice,

and flip the concoction

like the wizard you were.

I made my own toast

some gritty black coffee

and we ate in silence.

When we were done

I cleared away the plates,

soaking the crockery.

We were sated and smiley.

Breakfast always amused you.


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