Monday, 19 January 2009

Hopscotch highway

The hall is her hopscotch highway,
wide as a lane and all hers,
front-room a teeming jungle
where florid ornaments tangle underfoot
and walls send ivy tendrils to catch
at her: wing-heeled she leaps
into the easy chair, safe now,
feet on seat (forbidden).

She mouths a strangeness: antimacassar –
that fuss on the armrest,
formal, gleaming creamy-white,
like mother’s pearls (forbidden).
One day the necklace tore, made patterns
on the floor like milk-teeth scattered
for seeds. Mother’s hand fell hard
on her mouth. The day withered.

The gurgle of bath water draining
reels her in. In half-light the washing line sags
with mother’s stockings, shapeless
as discarded skin. She heeds the drum-roll
of drops, brings her face close:
Wet has a smell! What’s under skin?
Her tights are woollen, beige-brown
like the inside of mars-bars.

Today she’ll risk her blue-veined marbles
under the plane-trees on the promenade.
Below, the cobbled street hems in
the grey flow of the river, its slow,
steady streaming (forbidden).

The grave call of a ship’s horn sounds,
deeper than anything. Freighters glide
their measured course as if drawn
on strings, passing all day with their loads,
regular as breath.

Later, when the day slows, mother will call
her in, they’ll look out the window,
they’ll sing their waiting-for-dad song.

6 comments:

Kruse said...

I love this.
Beautiful, perfect words. Very strong images, "her tights...like the inside of mars bars." I felt a bleakness and warmth, the feeling of being a child very clearly, all the unconsidered things that are so endlessly interesting to children. Very lovely writing.

Cathy Cullis said...

I enjoyed reading your poem and will want to go back and read it again when I have more time to enjoy each image and line..... I am very pleased you are sharing your poetry and look forward to reading more, truly.

mansuetude said...

This tells such an intimate story; the daughter and her mother, but the daughter growing into her sensual body.

I am amazed by this stanza so much:

The gurgle of bath water draining
reels her in. In half-light the washing line sags
with mother’s stockings, shapeless
as discarded skin. She heeds the drum-roll
of drops, brings her face close:
Wet has a smell! What’s under skin?
Her tights are woollen, beige-brown
like the inside of mars-bars

Wow.
I don't, wouldn't ask for much more from a poet. This really knocked my stockings on! :)

Happy New Year to you too.

Your writing and your art work are of the same soul, I visual art and poetic speaking is visual art... its just a different material, i think..

Video, (object, story, shadows, sound, rhythm... see the link?

Amanda said...

So tender and personal. So visual. Beautiful! Congratulations! I have no idea how you can write like this with CFS...my head is like mud most of the time!

redredday said...

some of the imagery words themselves do not quite speak to me but i get the sense of 'bleakness and warmth' that Kruse mentioned. the flow of it is sad and brings me to then and now of a little girl's inside world. 'The day withered' resonates deeply with me.

Marjojo said...

Dear all, Thank you as ever for your kind comments! Strangely, or maybe not so strangely, as my poetry carries a big 'L'-sign, I feel more vulnerable posting poems than any of my other work. But I also crave crave crave feedback and appreciate everything you say. Dear Mien, it would really help me if you could let me know what didn't work for you. Will you let me know?