Poetry- Clare Morris


The Change:  2.15pm, 15/3/2018, Leicester Royal Infirmary

And so you sat down next to her bed,
With the bag of toiletries and magazines, your habitual offerings,
(the ones now in the bottom drawer that burn your fingers to touch them)
And she whispered with conspiratorial mischief about the matriarch opposite
And you laughed at the sudden shimmer of her words
As she joked with the nurses who took her for the routine procedure that would only take a moment or so
And you played Spider Solitaire to while away the time you didn’t realise was so short
Until you heard two screams that cut precisely through the air like the knife through your last birthday cake
And then the apologetic abruptness of the doctor with his hand on your arm as he showed you the photograph
(the one not mentioned in the coroner’s report),
The nurse’s tears, the evasive responses,
And you shocked and uncertain as you made phone calls,
Summoning the family in a voice that strained at each syllable,
Warning them of the change that no one wanted to explain or justify or own
And so you kept vigil as that home fire, once so bright, became ash, became dust,
While your anger burned deep and raw as still no one explained the reason for such silence,
So that now, months later, you lie awake in the near-dawn-dark,
Thoughts jangling like loose change in your pocket,
Wondering what you could have done to stop that day turning into night,
And so you wrote a poem and hoped that someone would read it and understand.


Listen, let me tell you about Leicester –

And I’ll tell you about our loyalty
With our hopeful matchday scarves hoisted high
In swathes of blue and white or green and red
As foxes and tigers prowl –
And our all-weather archaeologists digging deep in a cheerless carpark,
On knees, before our longed-for king –

And I’ll tell you about our literature
And that ruffian Joe waiting to entertain us on the stair with Mr Sloane
And Sue with her fractions and her secrets
And their word-wit that sparkles in unlikely places –

And I’ll tell you about our language
As we go down paggy sarvo wi’ Tezza, Bezza an’ Shazza
An’ if you tell us oo waree wi’ en we might let you come along too, duck –

And I’ll tell you about our light
And our streetlamps, Diwali-dreaming,
Alive with sudden illumination, warm as egg yolks,
As they pool their wares in Sainsbury’s puddles
Waiting for another Melton Road dawn –

And I’ll tell you about our love
And our Saturday-night serenading at the Palais de Danse
Where Mum met Dad
And knew that she’d found


The shoes we choose        

(6.13am, Monday, 13th February, Platform 1, Leicester Station)
They shape the sounds we long to make, our shoes,
The clickety-clack, the shuffle, the trot,
Tittle-tattle tales, some lies and some truths.

Loafers amble easily through life; dues
Not paid, they’re gone before it gets too hot,
They shape the sounds we long to make, our shoes.

Winkle pickers wait at alley’s end, ‘Who’s
A fool to argue with the tools I’ve got?’
Tittle-tattle tales, some lies and some truths.

Stilettos light their shimmy-sexy fuse,
Night out – squeezed in – corset tight – spill the lot,
They shape the sounds we long to make, our shoes.

Hale, hearty walking boots; naturalists muse
On thoughts fervour-fed, data-driven, not
Tittle-tattle tales, some lies and some truths.

The scuffed toe, the broken down-at-heel blues,
The preening, the keening, the God knows what –
They shape the sounds we long to make, our shoes,
Tittle-tattle tales, some lies and some truths.


About the contributor

Clare Morris works for The Blue Nib as an Editor at Large and regularly collaborates with the abstract artist, Nigel Bird (www.nigel-bird.com). Much of her poetry is written in response to the environment. She is currently working on a historical novel which focuses on 9th century Britain and takes the elegy Wulf and Eadwacer as its starting point. She and her husband live in Devon so that they can always put the cream on first.

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