The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

Pippa Little: 3 Poems Published

Poems by Pippa Little (UK)

Published in The Ofi Press issue 38.

 

 

Sister

I stole skeins of your hair

from our hairbrush

just as I took

stuff you left around

that smelled of you, owned your mystery.

 

You were who I could never be.

I was the one who cried

in the only wordless hour

we sat as a family

before the doctor:

 

years you talked for me,

coping, coping.

 

I’m sorry for all of it,

the unmothering, unfathering,

the hurt that felt like love

and how I love you now

 

as we grow old in separation.

 

 

 

 

 

Blotto

 

 

On Starbucks’ corner hunched against the cold

I’ve been here since the moon was high;

come morning, blow hard into the knot

of my blue hands, I have no hope

today will be more than the old shuttle

between being sober and being blotto.

 

It’s a kind of leaving without going, blotto:

an easy travelling farther away than cold,

swift and sure as a loom shuttle

I go clean and I go high,

way past being lost or found – in hope

only that one day I shall free this knot,

 

memory-knot, hunger  knot,  knot

that’s the opposite of blotto -

if you see me huddled at your feet I hope

you’d throw me more than a blind cold

stare from your important walking, high

above me, on your commuter shuttle:

 

to and fro you go, slaves of that great shuttle

faster and faster and for what? A slimy knot

you can never shift from your gut. Only a high

ending and a hurrah and I’ll soon be blotto,

my fanfare in your face, my joke against life’s cold

shoulder, in the sure and resounding hope

 

of what must come, hope in spite of hope.

The north wind’s a blade-sharp shuttle

I’m an impediment to its purpose, cold.

All in the end I’ve got is this ordinary knot

That’s me. Do you know blotto?

Do you know high?

 

Out cold, high, face kicked to a knot,

small hope of recovery. Found by the airport shuttle, blotto.

Hag

 

Big-bellied, bosomy, you bare your rump

to North America: these Atlantic airs have buffed your

spectacular ugliness, bouffant mad mother -

too many husbands, or too few,

you are no white ship sailing away

but one bent anchor, unblinking witness:

moon-battered too long for any kindness

you rage on the cliffs in your workhouse shift

all grey lichen, yellowing bruises,

yours to command, this origin-song you teach me

over and over until I learn, though I never manage it:

how shame and pride have nothing to say to one another

but are as snail and shell, one strange flesh.

I still ache to bury my loneliness in you, the way an injured tern

might huddle into the rocks of Skellig Michael,

breaking her African journey long enough

to let that rough tongue work its mercy.

 

 The Hag of Beara is a stone form looking out to sea from South West Cork.

 

About the Poet

Pippa Little was born in East Africa, raised in Scotland, and now lives in Northumberland. She has worked in editing, literacy and higher education and has a PhD in contemporary women’s poetry from London University. Her first collection, The Spar Box, came out in 2006 and was a PBS Pamphlet Choice. Winner of an Eric Gregory Award, The Norman MacCaig Centenary Prize, The Andrew Waterhouse Northern Promise Award and the Scotsman Haiku Prize among others. He second collection, Overwintering, was published by Carcanet in 2012.

Images: Vetatur Fumare: "Wife's hairbrush up-close" and Beverly Goodwin: "Nautical knot".