At the End of the Airfield
Bluebells nestle metal. I keenly
remember our dolls house cottage;
a man on a ladder who patched
the thatched roof. His silence and
Lancasters overhead. At a friend’s
(your colleague’s wife), I sung
happy birthday to little Jasmine,
just five, and let the children lug
dining room chairs for dens, dark
rugs thick with dust. My hair was
gold and thickly curled from rollers.
Still, I hear their pleas for you,
see, distinctly, the garden fence,
a blurred mass of trees beyond.
A neighbour's polite enquiries,
and the bloom of her cheek,
a similar shade to the foxgloves
I nurtured, roses I dead-headed.
A crackling radio: news
from Japan. The vicar’s small,
sweet cakes. Isn’t it wonderful,
almighty God! I remember the
journal pages slipped under
floorboards, white as a bone.
You smoothed your notebook on the bed, strained
to explain the bulk of words. And this the proof –
salubrious, serenity, soft swirls –
of life’s great truths. I glanced and bit my lip
as yours curved in a Well, what do you think?
And your shy eyes blinked, welling with ink.
Forgive me: time whirled back to the slow slip
of Sunday afternoons, whole Lego worlds
towering from my small hands. I think truth
smudged the window; small, reduced to rain.
Over the Wall
Deftly as a cat you scaled the wall.
You strutted the thin line like a tightrope walker,
like you'd been doing it for centuries. I inched,
two strands of hair glued to my eyelashes,
fumbled the air with my fingers,
jumped. Caught my foot
on the rough stone.
On a picnic rug with our faces
absorbing the midday sun,
you said you like the feel of honey
daubed thickly on my lips,
the shapes my legs make
in the parched grass.
“Some girls,” you winked
“have such a sweet tooth.”
I am not one of those girls.
After a few mouthfuls I feel nauseous.
You had packed round cakes
with cream squirted down the middle.
I licked jam off my spoon, pips
like bullets between my teeth.
I remember the afternoon's drunkenness.
The greenhouse. The checked tablecloth
swallowing the table in ripples, then great waves,
like bottomless, rolling pockets of fat.
The deep crimson of the wine
as I poured it into a bulbous glass, too large
and too full. The vicious stain as my hand slipped.
The bees lulled away from their gigantic petals,
swooning and hitting the glass heavily
until they laid down to rest and were still.
The stench of milk left out in a saucer.
I waited for you.
The tomatoes jostled. Heat bore down
on the glass, intense as a sonnet.
When did the day become violent?
One minute your eye pressed to the keyhole, the next
your body spread-eagled on the roof, grinning down at me.
Vines wrapped around my neck and on your wink stretched,
When I woke and noticed my foot was bleeding
I couldn't find any water. Where were you?
Instead I picked up one of the maroon serviettes
and bound it round tightly.
And I couldn't tell what was blood and what was serviette,
the material was so red.
Bio: Sophie Clarke was a commended Foyle Poet in 2007, and has poems featured in the ezine Pomegranate, Popshot magazine, and the forthcoming issue of Fuselit. Amongst her favourite things are Radiohead, cardigans, and sleeping past noon.
Poetry in Aldeburgh 2017
3 months ago