For the bathers, I am the oracle.
Supplicants gratefully received
By me, the nodding goddess,
Watching in case they drown.
The sunbeams are towelled out of their hair.
I draw the curtain on monsters
And notice again, the holes
Left by the cords I cut.
It is late then, when she asks
Will I live to be one hundred,
How long do people stay alive?
I don’t know, I answer.
There is no if for this, no but.
And she doesn’t want to be six, any more, she’ll stick at five.
You’re a bit young to be worrying about death, I say,
And turn off the fairy lights
In case they burn the house down.
At the nursing home, Ivy is queen.
Vee to her friends, she holds court over Sunday’s roast chicken and sprouts,
gravy dabbed from her chin by the firm, jolly hands of her ladies in waiting.
She had a time of it, in the war, she says.
No bananas then. And a good life, can’t complain.
She waves her hands, all blue blood and bone and the rest of us scrape as we stand.
No crumble for me, she says.
I’m watching my figure.
My daughter has eyes the exact colour of the North Sea in winter.
She gets that from her father.
But when she turns her head
to laugh at something I have said
In her face, a person surfaces
that I have never met.
On her lips and in her jaw
They look from lines and claw
Themselves up for a view
That goes further
Than living memory. And then,
She descends directly down the stairs
In her birthday suit.
She gets that from her mother.
The hubris of running full tilt
Through the churchyard.
The rests and the legs and the lungs I’m alive
And the beat of my feet I’m alive past the
Leaning cross mossed
Spire cocked and spinning
Above, fat with crows.
And that tender white line
Hoots and rattles below me
A spine through the cuttings,
It beckons and rolls with the
Flint teeth that clack with each
Pound on the track
And I feel our joints hang like a
Necklace of lights through the dark
Tunnel runs a live rail to the
The entrances are closed today
We hear the fire alarm
We home improvers turned away
From textiles, Daim, meatballs and Malm.
We’ve travelled miles for Swedish styles,
Spring cleaning since they changed the clocks.
For hygge’s found by walking round
a blue and yellow, sunless box.
We hope that there’s no trouble,
That nobody comes to harm.
And we hope a standard double
Fits the back seat with the Malm.
We want plate racks, pinewood dressers,
We chant, sliding glass against
Storage units, garlic pressers,
most of all please
We want Malm.
Please don’t push the guards say,
Everybody, please stay calm,
But the crowd is shouting, louder now, that
We want Malm.
The cops are here and rumours spread
Of packages; an hour long wait
And security’s no surety
of the correct use of evacuate.
So we shuffle off to Costa:
Women, children, then the rest
We order flat whites somehow
Feeling greatly dispossessed.
Our happiness a spare part; missing,
We have no still small voice of calm.
Instead we hear our heartbeats hissing:
We. Want. Malm.