A Girls and Other Poems- Anne Bevan

A Girl


There was a girl
Who lived in a glass mind
And carried her emotions
From room to room
In a brown suitcase.
Blackbirds pecked at her
Through see-through walls,
Hissing like cats at her muddled
Thoughts and scratching at her
Yellowing temples with steel claws.
Each day she packed and unpacked
At the stroke of twelve, neatly
Folding her thoughts.  Minutes
Passed and years tumbled; she lived
And died within her crystal cage.

Attic Boxes

Another baby dies and every mother cries
From memory.  Arms express the sentiment
Not spoken in any language.  Eyes drop
To greet the feet of grieving mothers
Whose gaze too sad, paralyses.  Baby clothes
Return to attic boxes and broken hearts
Are swept into waiting handbags.
Infant child, the headstone says
Like all those other epitaphs.
Old ladies walk their plastic dogs
Along the pleasant pathways, avoiding
Dates and names that may be familiar,
Communion strong for those who laid to rest
Their young, a lifetime too soon.
They hold their brokenness within
glass hearts, premature still.

Morning Coffee

The curtain lifts on a drippy Saturday morning
Waking the city from its hangover.  Seagulls
Screech as they seek out their weekend breakfast
From fish and chip papers, flung on the dirty pavements
By Friday night revellers.  Shopkeepers lift window
Shutters, waking the homeless in their chosen doorways.
A woman of indeterminate age stretches under her duvet,
Turning to face the street, hurting as she shifts her cold
Body in her concrete bed.  She touches her hair
As women do when waking, to check how high the bed head
Is.  In the reflection of the toughened glass of the shop front
She sees that she is not a pretty sight, but she hasn’t been
A pretty sight for a long time now.  She can’t remember
When she last sat in the reclining chair of a hair salon,
Having her locks shampooed and cut, the only treat
A woman will not give up, even in times of recession.
She spits on a crumpled tissue taken from her jeans pocket
And washes her face before rising to greet the city
Her stomach rumbles and she makes her way to a small
Coffee shop on Prince’s Street, hoping for the kindness
Of some shop assistant or beautician on their way to work;
There may even be a cigarette in it for her.  She
Checks her reflection again and rubs her hands down
Her crumpled clothes, smoothing the wrinkles.
In the doorway across from the cafe, she sees
A man with lined face, bleeding.  He’s been beaten
By young men who drank themselves into superiority
The night before; she gives him her coffee.  No point
Calling anyone to help him, they won’t have time
For a junkie.  She pulls her collar tighter and moves along. 


No Back Door

Saturdays were the noisiest, horse racing
Blaring from the monochrome set.
She glanced occasionally at the screen, tutting
To herself as she plucked a chicken
In the kitchen sink, feathers stuck to her fingers;
The boiling water she’d poured over the recently
Deceased bird steaming into her face; the smell
Of its innards making my stomach retch as she
Pulled them out onto the draining board.
The wireless, on a dusty shelf above dad’s chair,
Competed with the scene.  A food mixer danced
On the counter beside her, as the homemade butter,
Straight from the fridge, refused to blend or soften.
The mixer vibrated its way to the edge, sometimes
It fell, the waiting dog rushing to claim the spoils.
Feathers blew around the kitchen as she turned
And cursed the dog, whose turn it was to be blamed.
I wished we had a back door to escape
The madness unseen.  On the far side of my mother
A twin tub lurked.  It slopped and turned
Slopped and turned.  An extension cable crossed
The sink, the dead bird and the vibrating mixer
To reach the only socket in the kitchen,
Which bulged with adapters.  The Rayburn
Was more difficult on Saturdays, refusing
To maintain a steady one hundred and eighty
Degrees.  “The curse of God on it anyway”,
She screeched as her cakes blackened, still
Raw in the centre, then cursed the cakes and again
The dog for good measure; I hated Saturdays.

Dinosaurs

When did we become the dinosaurs?
Yesterday we were young and brave,
Emerging and opinionated, with
Flared jeans and tank tops. We danced
Beneath garish disco balls, night fever
Was our only sickness.

When did we become the dinosaurs?
With our clay spines, bent in human
Stance, short armed and hungry?
When did our soft skin turn to scales
Of overindulgence, power making
Us dangerous, obsolete?

When did our unimportant lives
Of self-satisfaction kill the poets,
Stifle the songsters, the cells
Of our youth dying within our brittle
Bones? Extinction will save the music,
Our death cries echoing in discordant notes.

We were the girls who cut new roads,
Who broke the old regime. We stopped
The rot; the abuse ended with our loud protestations.
We strengthened our daughters and educated
our sons to the changes; but
When did we become the dinosaurs?

The Lost Poet

Blue hair and the scar knitted in her brow
Gave her the air of a pirate and I felt
That soon she might intone
A sea shanty or lift a gilded cutlass
From beneath her flowing garb.

Rather, she recited verse of her own
Creation, the likes of which a mermaid
Might have written, but I saw no hint
Of fishtail beneath her ragged hem
No flowing sable locks swept her nape.

Perhaps I was mistaken and mermaids
Wore layered skirts and striped chemise
With greying bra straps tumbling onto
Freckled arms. I saw her eyes,
Black as onyx, search my ordinary face

For signs of familiarity, or madness perhaps,
Before she scanned the rest of those assembled
In the thatched pub, her stance relaxed
As her gaze met that of her sister
And mine, not knowing yet of my existence


The Waiting Room

A grey painted chair lazes by its sisters,
A comfortable crossroads in a tiny cucina.
A child’s toy rests on the farthest one
With wheel missing. I see myself

Move pedantically between this half life
And the outer skin that is my world, faded
Behind the kitchen window, framed
In a hideous comedy of dishes and grief.

Wiping my hands on the already wet towel,
I wander through to the sitting room, cluttered
With old trophies and Clarice Cliff treasures,
Dust catchers all. With arm outstretched

I clear a shelf, hearing the muted crashes
In the distance. I step carefully
Amid the shards of her life, struggling
to release myself from that time.

Placing the damp towel on a dusty sideboard,
I glance in the gold leaf mirror above the hearth.
Tucking a defiant hair back into place
I remember I am she.

About the contributor

Anne Elizabeth Bevan is from Kilkenny but lives in Cork. Her forthcoming collection of poems entitled Testament will be published by Lapwing Press, Belfast. She has just completed her first novel and is working on a second

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