No 15 - September 2001
I help lay the table,
the chipped cup at my place, wonder -
should I be the person she wants me to be,
introduced as the shy one - here she is,
the one in the middle, likes books:
never did go out much.
I smile at her and quietly think
about lifting the lid off,
the tea looks stewed.
Or should I be the person he wants me to be.
Not so much shy, as boring.
The one who lives in her sister’s shadow -
he said that once. He also said that
he’d married the wrong sister and it
isn’t so much that her skirts are short
or that he fantasises about her cleavage,
or even that she sings like Dusty Springfield
but simply that she speaks of sixty-miners
and I don’t know what they mean.
I make the tea the way she likes it; it’s okay
for her bleaching her teeth at the end of the day.
I pour another cup, listen as the conversation
draws shades over me, the me
that’s screaming inside - and him,
his eyes glossed over, slurping noisily
and I know what’s coming.
Later when my mother’s asleep
he’ll dish up salt and pepper dreams.
For now, the conversation thickens,
so dense you can’t get in,
but I like being on the outside.
I imagine the colour fading from their faces
as I smile a swanky smile,
dish up a dessert of French fancies,
swing my pleats into action
and lace their tea with bromide.
They’ll think it’s the wrong time of my month
or that goody-two-shoes,
keep your knees covered,
don’t talk with your mouth full,
has taken leave of her senses
but my sense are all there
swaggering under my pleats.
I try again to be who she wants me to be,
dutifully draw the curtains that wave
hysterically behind his chair;
ignore the hand that pats a pitiful pat.
I try to be who he wants me to be,
smile sweetly this time, “Roll me over
in the clover” playing like a broken record,
his words in my head.
I’d rather listen to her words,
“Mac the Knife”; “The Birth of the Blues”,
but even more, I’d like to sing one of mine,
dance their dances out, if only I could.
There’s more tea brewing.
She reads the leaves, raising her brow
with the tilt of the cup as she speaks,
fiction in brown stained smiles spread
across the room, skulk in the corner
where I’m all sugar and plums
silvering my cups’ lining with dreams.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The