Why do your children remember that one time
when you lost your rag over spilt sugar?
And it was only a gentle smack on the hand.
Or the time you promised to buy skates
for a birthday but were distracted at the counter
and brought home painting by numbers?
Instead, why couldn’t your children recall
the night you sat up all night to dab with calamine
erupting chicken-pox pustules or how you
drove through the early hours to get them
to an important audition but they did not wave
as you drove back with tears scalding your face?
Later, as you waited for their flight to land
or waved them off on some wayward journey?
Why did they not look back and see you, there,
waiting, always waiting with favoured candies
love and handkerchiefs, and an encouraging
and a practised smile sieving the sour from the sweet.
My fridge is out of control.
I dare not scout around the dead
grapes, kept green by cold.
The tomatoes are waiting
to burst skins and ooze red.
They are patients of suffering.
The yoghurt ferments,
seething under its lids,
while butter lies rancid
in its foiled churn of despair.
It is a controlled, capsuled
death for them all. And yet
indifferent idleness lets them
stew in their own indolent juices.
Still, I can’t pull the plug
and close my face to this
presentiment of decay.
Instead, making sure that
the door is sealed –
I am the emissary at the
delicatessen’s sandwich counter.
Driving through the estate,
lost and wondering
why the maze of streets
were not signposted,
she came upon a building
high on a hill that once
had been erected to
a spirit of community.
And, emblazoned across
on a printed
ribbon that the wind
like a flag for forgotten heroes.
‘Studies show that children are better at identfyng Pokemon characters than real
animals and plants.’ THE GUARDIAN.
My aunt could name the flowers on our walk
as through the lane, her voice announced
the Greater Celandine and helped us pick
the fairy fruit of wild strawberries.
I know the names and hear them in her voice:
through the meadow, Shepherd’s Purse,
Milkwort, Ragged Robin and Hare’s Foot,
Red Clover and a Lady’s Mantle for our game.
Through the woods, an eye for detail and
love of clarity found Columbine, Red Campion,
Enchanter’s Nightshade and Pimpernel
whose scarlet petals close to signal rain.
Stigma, filament, sepal and carpel
detailed in the neat writing of her notebook,
and still we’d run to find another flower,
to test her power to charm us by her naming.